Milan, Italy — On the issue of implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) at the WTO, India’s perspective was well presented before the Eleventh Meeting of Finance Ministers of Asia and Europe in Milan, Italy, yesterday. Finance Secretary, Government of India, Arvind Mayaram, who was leading the Indian delegation, assertively put forth the India’s point of view on different issues of economic cooperation for India in this forum including on TFA.
India had refused to ratify TFA in Geneva meet in late July till the WTO members found a permanent solution to the issue public stock holding of foodgrains for the food security programme.
India has asked the WTO to amend the norms for calculating agriculture subsidies so that the country could continue to procure foodgrains from farmers at minimum support price and sell them to poor at cheaper rates without violating the norms.
The current WTO norms limit the value of food subsidies at 10% of the total value of food grain production. However, the quantum of subsidy is computed after taking into consideration prices that prevailed about 20 years ago.
Mayaram garnered the support of countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Russia for India’s standpoint. After protracted negotiations, ASEM agreed to not only drop a reference to non-implementation of TFA but also to include reference to need for implementation of all Bali decisions in the draft communiqué of Finance Ministers Meeting of ASEM.
India also got inclusion of reference to BRICS and disappointment with poor progress on IMF quota reforms in the communiqué. The ASEM communiqué talks about enhanced cooperation between countries of Asia and Europe to create sustainable and profitable growth.
Countries like United Kingdom, Germany, Finland, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and European Commission emphasised the need for expressing deep concern on non-implementation of TFA without mentioning India’s concern on the issue of food security.
Earlier the finance ministers of ASEM (Asia Europe Meeting) member countries threadbare discussed the draft communiqué to be approved by the Eleventh Finance Ministers’ meeting. During the deliberations, various contentious issues came-up. Mayaram was successful in getting India’s perspective included in the communiqué.