TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Jul14/10)
21 July  2014
Third World Network  

India reiterates stand on TF Protocol
Published in SUNS #7848 dated 21 July 2014

New Delhi, 18 Jul (TWN/Mani Candan) - India has reiterated its stand of 2 July at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on withholding consensus on a Protocol of Amendment with respect to the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

An official press release dated 16 July 2014 issued in New Delhi cited the Secretary of the Commerce Ministry of India to contradict some western media reports that India was no longer blocking the adoption of the Protocol of Amendment to the WTO on Trade Facilitation by linking it to visible progress on Food Security and other Bali Ministerial decisions.

In testimony before the US House Ways and Means Committee on 16 July, Deputy US Trade Representative and US ambassador to the World Trade Organization Michael Punke had expressed optimism that India's insistence on linking implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement with progress on securing for developing countries an agreement on public stockholding for food security purposes would be dropped.

Citing this, the Washington Trade Daily said that Punke told reporters afterwards that his optimism was based on press reports (agency press reports) from New Delhi that India would not insist on linking the two.

Punke was also reported as telling the Committee that he and US Trade Representative Michael Froman would have "direct" discussions with India this Saturday at the annual Group-of-20 trade ministers' meeting in Sydney.

The Commerce Ministry press release issued in New Delhi said that the Commerce Secretary of India (Mr. Rajeev Kher) has been completely misquoted as saying that "the government would not block the world's first global trade deal over lack of progress on food subsidy talks and further that progress on food stockpiling is not a condition for signing the protocol."

The press release quoted the statement recently made by India in the WTO and said this reflected the correct position.

The Indian statement (by Ambassador Anjali Prasad) on 2 July, at the meeting of the Preparatory Committee on Trade Facilitation (PCTF), had said: "Till we have an assurance and visible outcomes which convince developing countries that Members will engage in negotiations with commitment to find a permanent solution on public stockholding and all other Bali deliverables, especially those for the LDCs, India will find it difficult to join the consensus on the Protocol of Amendment." (See SUNS #7838 dated 7 July 2014.)

At that PCTF meeting on 2 July, it was clearly stated that India has always engaged constructively and actively on Trade Facilitation and "we are working on our commitments, (that) however, India is deeply disappointed and concerned at the completely uneven progress in the other areas of work mandated by Ministers in Bali," Mr. Kher clarified.

It was also reiterated by the Commerce Secretary that there should be more clarity on this issue and Members' concerns satisfactorily addressed including on Public Stockholding.

The press release added: "It seems that by attributing ‘wrong statement', to India an effort is being made to divide developing countries who have taken a clear stand on the issue."