India has decided to increase pressure on the WTO to expedite negotiations on food security matters to ensure that these are not thrust to the background at the next Ministerial meet in Buenos Aires in December. All issues related to food security were ignored at the last Ministerial meet in Nairobi two years ago with the excuse that members held divergent positions.
New Delhi will also have to work out how to ensure the continuation of the on-going Doha round of talks, with several development issues on the agenda. Many developed countries want it to be scrapped.
- India and other members of the G-33 group of developing countries in agriculture have been trying to push the WTO into starting work on a special safeguard mechanism (SSM).
- This is to protect farmers in developing countries and a permanent solution to the public stock holding programme for a while.
- However, influential members such as the US and the EU, have not shown any interest in speeding up negotiations.
- At the Nairobi Ministerial meet, all members agreed to work on a SSM for developing countries that would enable them to raise import duties on agriculture items.
- This was in case imports rose steeply or there was a sharp fall in domestic prices.
- The Nairobi declaration also stated that meetings must be held in an “accelerated time frame” to arrive at a permanent solution to the problem of public stock-holding which is necessary to avoid a situation when such programs get penalized.
The Doha Development Agenda, more often referred to as the Doha round trade talks, is the latest cycle of negotiations under the umbrella of the WTO. There have been nine rounds of multilateral trade talks since the end of the second world war, but the Doha round is the first to focus on helping developing countries join the global marketplace, and boost their economies as a result. The round was launched in November 2001.