Ahead of a key ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization this year, India, China and 50 other developing countries are working on a proposal to be able to purchase, stockpile and distribute food to ensure food security.

As part of a lasting solution for their public stockholding programmes, the developing countries want programmes such as procurement of food products from farmers at minimum support price and their distribution at subsidised rates to the poor, included in the global rules of agriculture. They also want such programmes to be exempt from subsidy reduction commitments.

The proposal is based on a submission by the G33 made in 2017 that called for incorporating a new annex in the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture for exempting public stockholding programmes from subsidy reduction-commitments.

“G33, China, India, the Philippines and Nigeria are working together on an option paper based on the proposal made by G33 to find a stand alone permanent solution with less burdensome transparency requirements,” said a Geneva-based official.

G33 is a group of 48 developing and least developed countries.

Public stockholding is a policy tool used by governments to purchase, stockpile and distribute food when needed. While stocking and distributing food is permitted under WTO rules, governments purchasing food at prices higher than market prices are considered to be subsidising their farmers.

“We plan to fine tune the G33 proposal as it is open-ended and not many developed countries are willing to give so many flexibilities to the developing countries,” said another official, adding that different options are being explored to arrive at a solution by the WTO ministerial conference in November.

As per the second official, discussions are on to reduce certain constraints in the Bali peace clause and extend it to new schemes. At present, it is applicable to existing public stockholding programmes for food security purposes.

India, China, 50 Others to Float Food Security Proposal at WTO



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