Doubt clouds compromise at Bali

Several countries including India, China and Indonesia stuck to their demand till Thursday for changes in the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) policies on agricultural subsidy.

India rejected the trade facilitation proposal placed by the WTO as acceptable.

Terming the position of the developed nations on several issues, India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said the absence of a decision was better than solving problems half-heartedly.

The Bali package comprises issues of trade facilitation, agriculture subsidy and duty- and quota-free access of commodities from LDCs to developed economies.

If there is no consensus on any of its issues, there will be no compromise on the full package, signaling the failure of the conference.

In a press conference on Thursday, Sharma said India would not compromise on the developing nations’ demands, especially on those concerning farm subsidy, leaving millions of people hungry.

He alleged that developed countries were influencing the prices of agriculture commodities.

He said WTO treated agriculture commodity prices prevailing 29 years ago as the base prices. “It goes against the interest of the farmers of the poor and the Least Developed Countries. That’s why the market and subsidy systems need urgent reforms.”

Following his press conference, doubts arose over possibilities of compromise at Bali.

Forty-six members of G-33, including India, demand that the farmers be given subsidy and their produce bought at fair prices to ensure poor people’s access to food at low costs.

Sharma said the time had come dump the idea that developing countries would only implement the agenda set by developed nations.

He said all the nations had to advance keeping in mind equity and equality. “This is the best path at this moment,” he said.

The four-day ninth WTO ministerial conference began on Tuesday. Around 10,000 representatives from 150 countries are attending the meet.

Source: Bd news24


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