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India Aims For Agricultural Reform Deal And WTO Arbitration Restoration At High-Level Talks

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(CTN News) – India’s Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal expressed hope for significant progress on crucial agricultural reforms and the restoration of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) arbitration powers during a high-level meeting in Abu Dhabi this week.

The four-day talks are expected to focus on pivotal issues such as fisheries, digital trade tariffs, and the contentious matter of public stockholding (PSH).

 Trust Building and Delivery of Promises: A Prerequisite for Meaningful Engagement

Goyal emphasized the importance of building trust among participating nations, underscoring that progress on previously agreed-upon commitments is essential.

He conveyed this sentiment, stating, “Unless we build trust with each other and we deliver on what has already been promised and agreed, any engagement on other issues will only be subsequent.”

The issue of public stockholding (PSH), pertaining to state policies on food procurement for ensuring food security, emerged as a stumbling block.

Goyal pointed out that certain members were hindering potential solutions, creating obstacles to resolving the matter. The skepticism extends to the WTO’s dispute-resolution system, contributing to a decrease in confidence within the world’s largest trade body.

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G33 Nations Seek Permanent Solutions to PSH Programs

Trade ministers from the Group of 33 nations, led by Indonesia and India, convened before the WTO conference to address the issue of PSH programs, specifically aimed at food security in developing and poor countries.

India reiterated that the WTO’s development agenda would remain incomplete without a permanent solution, emphasizing its significance in achieving the global goal of zero hunger by 2030.

Goyal, a key figure at the talks, missed the initial days of the Abu Dhabi meeting due to prior political engagements in India. However, he expressed amusement at the attention generated by his absence.

Some wealthier nations argue that PSH programs, especially those involving subsidies for farmers, distort global agricultural trade. In response, India defends these programs as necessary to provide food security for its vast population of 1.4 billion.

During discussions on agriculture, India highlighted that some developed countries were providing significantly higher subsidies to their wealthy farmers.

Goyal expressed hope that the ministerial conference would address longstanding issues and revive the WTO’s appellate body for trade disputes, essential for maintaining a fair and effective dispute resolution mechanism.

India’s Vision for a Cooperative Approach

Despite challenges, Goyal maintained optimism, stating that if all members worked cooperatively, significant progress could be made during the Abu Dhabi meeting.

His positive outlook reflects India’s commitment to constructive engagement and finding solutions to longstanding issues within the WTO.

In conclusion, India’s participation in the high-level meeting signals its commitment to advancing agricultural reforms and revitalizing the WTO’s dispute-resolution mechanism.

The negotiations are crucial not only for India’s food security policies but also for achieving broader global goals in the realm of trade and development.

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