India to insist for safeguard tool against import surge at WTO

India to insist for safeguard tool against import surge at WTO

SSM, permanent solution to the issues discussed in Doha, and a package for least developed countries will be on top of the agenda at WTO’s conference in Nairobi

Himanshu Vatsa | The Dollar Business Bureau

  Special safeguard measures (SSM) is a necessary tool for developing nations to check import surge and it will be at the centre of discussion along with the issues emanating from the Doha Development Agenda during the coming WTO conference, India has said. Representatives from more than 160 member countries of the WTO (World Trade Organisation) are scheduled to meet in Nairobi, Kenya during the ministerial conference to be held on December 15-18. Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia said that apart from SSM, permanent solution to the development issues discussed during WTO’s Doha round in 2001 and a package for least developed countries will be on top of the agenda at Nairobi. “As of now, there is a large group of countries that feels that SSM is necessary for a simple reason that subsidies to agriculture have not been reduced by developed countries; two, some developed and some developing countries do have protection in terms of the kind of safeguard measures they can use. And therefore, it’s only fair that others should have that. And this is the reason why there is a lot of support around SSM,” Teaotia said. She said several developed countries are giving subsidies to agriculture sector up to 70-80% and this distorts the market when their product enters the export market. “This is a facility which is available to so many countries, why should it not be available to us,” she said, adding, “It’s not a bargaining chip.” At Nairobi, while the developing countries want to continue with the discussion under the framework of Doha Development Agenda (DDA), developed nations are trying to bring in fresh issues. Despite the prevailing differences over food subsidies, India hopes that the negotiation will bring positive results. “Within the framework of DDA, there will be different interests, but the umbrella contains enough interests for all of us to work together to come to a conclusion,” the Commerce Secretary said. For a permanent solution to the food subsidy issue, India has sought amendment in the formula to calculate the subsidy cap of 10%. “The agri subsidy is a big-ticket item on which there has to be some decision because there has been no progress,” she said. On SSM, the developed countries insist on the use of tool in case of 40% annual increase in imports. But India and other developing countries are in favour of implementing SSM if imports go up by 10% annually.  

December 11, 2015  | 03:25pm IST

The Dollar Business Bureau - Dec 11, 2015 12:00 IST