India seeks changes to WTO plan on WFP food procurement to allow exports from public stocks

India requests changes in the draft Ministerial Decision on the exemption of World Food Program food purchases from the export ban presented at the ongoing WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) so that it includes its main demands to allow exports for food aid, including on government-to-government (G2G) basis, from public stocks, said a source following the case.

“The draft text on the exemption for WFP food purchases is not acceptable to India in its current form. He will continue to push for the incorporation of his demands into the final ministerial decision during discussions on Monday and Tuesday,” the source said.

Areas of intervention

Draft ministerial decisions in a number of areas, such as agriculture, fisheries, WFP food procurement and the WTO’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, have been circulated at the WTO before the 12th Ministerial Conference which started on June 12 with the aim of reaching final agreements. before June 15.

The draft decision on WFP food procurement stipulated that members should not impose export bans or restrictions on food procured for non-commercial humanitarian purposes by WFP. She also added that the decision would not prevent members from taking measures to ensure their national food security in accordance with the relevant provisions of the WTO Agreements.

This mainly reflects the initial plan established by Singapore in November 2020 to exempt WFP non-commercial purchases from any export restrictions, which eventually won the support of around 80 members.

“India has made it clear to the WTO that it has never refused to supply food to the WFP. In fact, in the past, he was one of the main contributors to the MAP. At the same time, he extended his support to neighbors with food supplies. Its demand that exemptions from export restrictions also be extended to G2G supplies and that exports be allowed from public stocks will ensure food security for many more,” the source added.

The WTO currently does not allow exports from food stocks purchased by governments at administered prices. India’s argument is that these stocks should be allowed to be exported as long as it is not for commercial purposes.

According to Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) chief Ashwani Mahajan, not extending the proposed exemption from the export ban to G2G supplies was part of the agenda pursued by the developed world that favors corporate interests. “Companies are engaging in commodity trading for profit while India wants to source on G2G basis to help other members in need. We need to keep pushing our agenda,” said said Mahajan.

WFP’s decision could be beneficial, but it covers such a small volume of trade that it cannot have a big impact on addressing global food security issues that require more systemic solutions, says Larissa Avelar, head of the Committee Norwegian solidarity with Latin America.

“These efforts must be accompanied by a permanent solution to the problem of public stockholding, as it is an essential tool for providing food to the poor and hungry in developing countries, NFIDCs and LDCs. The critical need is also to increase national production by advancing important programs such as subsidizing small farmers and land reform, because land concentration is an endemic problem in Latin America, where I come from,” said she declared.

Published on

June 13, 2022

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