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Food security non-negotiable, Sharma tells WTO

Thursday Dec 5, 2013, Bali: In a strongly-worded message to WTO members, India today said the food security issue was “non-negotiable” and the country also managed support for its stand from several nations from Africa and Latin America.

“Agriculture sustains millions of subsistence farmers. Their interests must be secured. Food security is essential for over four billion people of the world. “For India, food security is non-negotiable. Need of public stock-holding of foodgrains to ensure food security must be respected. Dated WTO rules need to be corrected,” Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said addressing the plenary session of the 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). For its tough stand over the food security issue, India got support from several new members from Africa and Latin America, though some G-33 partners like Indonesia and China have shifted their positions. The second day of the WTO Ministerial Conference started with India saying “we have a half-baked agricultural package … for India food security is non-negotiable”. According to sources, the “strong and clear” message given by Sharma during the plenary session of the WTO meeting, “created a flutter” here and a whole lot of enquiries were made. Sharma, on his part trimmed his speech to the allotted three minutes lest it should evoke some adverse remarks from the chair.

“China has got what it wanted in trade facilitation and Indonesia is a host country which wants a successful conclusion to the long stalled talks,” Indian sources said. Earlier both were supporting India’s stand.

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