India, US pave way for WTO revival

U.S. agrees to give India more freedom to subsidize and stockpile food to feed its citizens and support its farmers.

U.S. and India have agreed on the way forward for implementing key elements of the package of agreements reached last December at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali.

Differing views on the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement and the decision on Public Stockholding for Food Security Purposes created an impasse in July which had led to a freezing of WTO negotiations since then. Efforts to put the TFA in place were dealt a setback in July, when a small group of countries, led by India, raised concerns about the status of the WTO’s work on food security issues and blocked consensus on implementing the TFA.

U.S. has agreed to give India more freedom to subsidize and stockpile food to feed its citizens and support its farmers.

“With the WTO confronting a mounting crisis of confidence, President Obama and Prime Minister Modi held productive discussions on this issue, including during the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington in September,” a statement from U.S. Trade Representative ambassador Michael Froman said.  “In recent days, officials of both governments worked intensively and reached an agreement that should give new momentum to multilateral efforts at the WTO.  In doing so, the United States and India reaffirm their joint commitment to the success and credibility of the WTO.”

The agreement provides a basis for the WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo to intensify his consultations with other WTO members on the best way to overcome the present stalemate and to promptly implement all Bali ministerial decisions.

Azevêdo said advancing the WTO negotiations attempt to work toward a permanent solution on public stockholding and the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, including its provisions for technical assistance for developing countries, will be integral in delivering beneficial outcomes for WTO members.

While stressing that the India-US understanding would represent a major step forward, the Director-General stressed that Members would need to redouble their efforts in order to minimize the delays provoked by the impasse on the conclusion of the post-Bali work program.

"The Post-Bali work program remains a priority. Members will need to make every effort to get it back on track as quickly as possible," the Director-General added.

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