INDIA SEEKS SPECIAL SAFEGUARD PROVISION FOR AGRICULTURE
FEEDBACK ON PROPOSALS ON AGRICULTURE SUBMITTED TO WTO
Date : 17 Apr 2001
Location : New Delhi
India submitted its proposals on 15th January 2001 to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for the ongoing mandated negotiations under the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) in the areas of market access, domestic support, export competition and food security. Besides these proposals, India had also co-sponsored two other proposals in WTO, one on "Market Access" along with 11 other developing countries on 28th September 2000 and the other on "Export Credits for Agricultural Products" along with 9 other countries on 21st March 2001. The objective of these proposals is (a) to protect our food and livelihood security and (b) to create opportunities for expansion of agricultural exports.
Indian proposals include (I) additional flexibility for providing subsidies to key farm inputs; (ii) exemption from reduction commitments for measures directed towards poverty alleviation, rural employment and rural development; (iii) exclusion of product specific support given to low income and resource poor farmers from the calculations of Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS); (iv) clarification that negative product specific support would be allowed to be set off against the positive non-product specific support figures of AMS; (v) rationalisation of product coverage under AoA; (vi) developing countries to be allowed to give export subsidies as permitted under the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures; (vii) flexibility to have appropriate level of tariff bindings on agricultural products; (viii) rationalisation of low tariffs bound in the earlier rounds by the developing countries; (ix) provision of a separate safeguard mechanism on the lines of Special Safeguard provision including a provision for imposition of quantitative restrictions (QRs) in the event of a surge in imports or a decline in international prices; and (x) no minimum market access commitment for developing countries. The Indian proposals have also demanded inclusion of support given under the Blue Box and decoupled income support and direct payments under the Green Box in the Amber Box and subjecting the same to reduction commitments; accelerated reduction in AMS by developed countries; substantial reduction in tariff bindings in developed countries; expansion and transparent administration of Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) pending their eventual abolition; elimination through accelerated reduction in export subsidies; and abolition of Peace Clause for the developed countries.
The Indian proposals have, by and large, been well received and endorsed by many developing and developed countries. However, reservations have been expressed by some member countries with regard to Indian proposals on the ground that they do no contain any offer of concessions for further liberalisation of agricultural trade by India. It has also been stated by some members that since trade is a two-way process, India should also offer reciprocal concessions with a view to furthering the process of liberalisation in agricultural trade.
India has demanded through these proposals that sufficient flexibility should be available to developing countries for taking domestic policy measures for poverty alleviation, rural development, rural employment and diversification of agriculture and that a special safeguard mechanism should be made available to the developing countries to protect domestic producers against any surge in imports or against any decline in international prices below a predetermined level with a view to protect the livelihood of a large percentage of their population. India has also demanded that developing countries should be allowed to maintain appropriate levels of tariff bindings keeping in mind their developmental needs and high distortions prevalent in international markets so as to protect livelihood of its large population dependent on agriculture. India has also included a detailed proposal on "Food Security" demanding the creation of a "Food Security Box" in its proposals submitted to WTO in order to take care of its food security and livelihood concerns.
This information was given by Shri Murasoli Maran, Union Minister of commerce and Industry, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.