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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Jul14/13)
24 July  2014
Third World Network

Press Release: 23rd July, 2014

Indian farmers organizations call upon the Government to stand firm on food security issue at the WTO

In a statement released ahead of the WTO General Council meeting tomorrow, farmers organization in India called upon the Indian Government to  stand firm on  linking the Food Security proposal with  the  Trade Facilitation Agreement in WTO. Farmers’ leaders expressed shock over the Chair's summary of the G 20 trade ministers meeting which was held on July19 at Sydney. The Chair's summary was fully silent over  the  food  security  proposal  of  the  Bali  Declaration,  while  it  referred  specifically  to  the  Trade Facilitation Agreement. Thus “the G20 is increasingly turning to fixing the interest of developed countries by  ignoring  paramount  concerns  for  people  in  developing  countries  and  in  least  developed  countries”, the farmers’ groups claimed.

Yudhvir Singh, leader of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), one of thelargest farmers organizations in India, said  that,  "in  the  backdrop  of  rising  costs  and  extremely  volatile  global  market  prices,  and  to  fulfil the constitutional  obligation  of  food  security  to  its  people,  and  also  to  ensure  the  livelihood  security  of producers,  the  Government  of  India  needs  to  sustain and  increase  domestic  agricultural  production through price support, procurement and other measures to achieve self-sufficiency in food production, across  different food grains.  This is  all the  more  important in  the  context  of hundreds  of thousands  of farmers committing suicides in desperation”.

Kavitha  Kuruganti,  of  Alliance  for  Sustainable  &  Holistic  Agriculture  (ASHA)  said,  “The  Government  of India lost a historical opportunity in correcting deep-seated WTO wrongs in the Bali Ministerial. At least now, they need to stand firm on our sovereign policy space related to food and livelihood security, and sustainable development pathways. Indian governmentat that time settled for a temporary solution with so called 'peace clause'. Lack of progress towards a 'permanent solution' vindicates our apprehensions. At this point of time, the government should not buckle under any international pressure. It should remain firm in its position”.

Naresh Sirohiof BJP Kisan Morcha added, ”India has currently taken a position to block the ratification of the  TFA  unless  other  elements  of  the  Bali  Outcome  including  permanent  solution  on  the  food  security proposal and the LDC package are advanced. However  we are hearing conflicting reports of India being ‘fully  committed  to  the  (Bali)  package’.  This  clearly  gives  an  impression  that  India  may  agree  to  the finalization of protocol on trade facilitation without the finalization of Doha Round especially on the issue of food security, which is against the principle ofthe single undertaking”.

Vijoo Krishnan of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) said that, “we arealarmed over government's recent policy to freeze agricultural subsidies and to reduce public - food stockholding that will endanger food security and push Indian farmers out of agriculture. The government has to reverse it at national level and protect its policy space at WTO to provide production support to its farmers”.

In the context of G20 Chairs summary, Indian farmers statement;

  • Sought  clarification  from  the  Government  of  India  whether  it  has  moved  away  from  its  earlier stand. 
  • Called upon the Government not to buckle down underthe pressure from USA, the EU and other developed  countries  and  not  to  dilute  its  position  of  linking  trade  facilitation  with  food  and livelihood security and by pushing a permanent solution to the G-33 Food Security Proposal. 
  • Called  upon  the  Government  of  India  to  use  current  negotiations  to  correct  fundamental  WTO wrongs, to build up and lead a coalition /alliance  of like-minded countries to collectively secure safeguards for sovereign development policy space,  food security and the livelihood concerns of farmers and its people. 
  • Urged the government to take a proactive role in building such alliances as India did in building G-20 and G-33.

For more information please contact:
Yudhvir Singh at 098-681-46405
Naresh Sirohi at 098-996-00011



Indian Farmers' Statement on India's stand at WTO
Released on 23 July 2014 at New Delhi

The Government should Clarify its Stand on Food Security and
Trade Facilitation at WTO Negotiations

In the context of the recent WTO negotiations, we the undersigned farmers’ organisations express  our  disappointment  on  the  Chair’s  Summary  of  the  G-20  trade  ministers  meeting. The  Chair’s  summary  refers  specifically  to  the  Trade  Facilitation  Agreement  (TFA)  of  the Bali  Outcome  but  does  not  refer  to  the  food  security  proposal, which  is  of  paramount importance for the people of India.

Further, the Chair’s summary is fully silent on the livelihood concerns of farmers and other affected people in developing countries. This clearly shows that  G20 is increasingly turning to fixing the interest of developed countries and totally ignoring  the livelihood concerns of people in the developing countries and least developed countries.

Agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy. Food security in India rests heavily on the Public Distribution System (PDS) and the PDS itself cannot be operated unless farmers are  given  enough  support  so  that  they  can  continue  to  produce. In  the  context  of  rising costs  and  extremely  volatile  global  market  prices,  and  to  fulfil  the  constitutional  obligation of  food  security  to  its  people,  the  Government  of  India  needs  to sustain  and  increase domestic agricultural production through price support, procurement and other measures to achieve  self-sufficiency  in  food  production,  across  different food  grains  at  that.  This  is  all the  more  important  in  the  present  context  of  deep  agrarian  crisis  manifesting  itself  in hundreds of thousands of producers committing suicides in desperation.

At  the  Bali  ministerial,  the  Indian  government  had  sought  to  secure  such  subsidies  to farmers  through  the  G-33  Food  Security  Proposal.  However  due  to bungled  negotiations, the  nation  settled  for  a  Peace  Clause  which  allows  such  subsidies  only  for  a  temporary period while the developed countries pushed the TFA which is a permanent agreement. We also  bound  ourselves  under  too  many  conditions  in  “freeze  clauses”.  In  fact,  many  of  us clearly  pointed  out  that  India  has  chosen  to  miss  a  historical  opportunity  to  correct  deepseated WTO wrongs.  We were however promised by the Indian government that they  will push for a permanent solution to the food security proposal.

India’s  primary  interest,  both  domestically  and  globally,  has to  be  the  protection  of agricultural producers’ livelihoods and the domestic productionof food in order to meet the right  to  food  of  its  people.  Unfortunately  the  recent  policy stance  by  the  government  is raising  alarm  as  agricultural  subsidies  are  being  frozen  and  public  food-stockholding  is being progressively reduced, both of which  will endanger food security of the country  and push  farmers  out  of  agriculture,  that  too  at  a  time  when  other  sectors  are  not  able  to provide employment for the displaced.

India  has  currently  taken  a  position  to  block  the  ratification  of  the  TFA  unless  other elements  of  the  Bali  Outcome  including  permanent  solution  on  the  food  security  proposal and  the  LDC  package  are  advanced.  In  a  statement  at  WTO,  India’s  Ambassador  stated that, “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 stock holding and all other Bali deliverables, especially those for the LDCs, India will find it difficult to join the consensus on the Protocol of Amendment.”

However  we  are  hearing  conflicting  reports  of  India  being  “fully committed  to  the  (Bali) package”.  This  clearly  gives  an  impression  that  India  may  agree  to  the  finalization  of protocol on trade facilitation without the finalizationof Doha Round especially on the issue of food security, which is against the principle of the single undertaking.

In the context of the G-20 Chair’s summary and various conflicting newspaper reports;

  • We seek clarification from the Government of India whether ithas moved away from its earlier stand. 
  •  We call on the Government of India not to buckle down under the pressure from USA, the  EU  and  other  developed  countries  and  not  to  dilute  its  position  of  linking  trade facilitation with food and livelihood security and by pushing a permanent solution to theG-33 Food Security Proposal. 
  • We call upon the Government of India to use current negotiations to correct fundamental WTO wrongs, to build up and lead a coalition /alliance of likeminded  countries  to  collectively  secure  safeguards  for  sovereign development  policy  space,  food  security  and  the  livelihood  concerns  offarmers and its people. We urge the government to take a proactive role in building such alliances as India did in building G-20 and G-33.

Endorsed by:
Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)
All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS)
Bhartiya Kisan Union, Delhi
Bhartiya Kisan Union, UP
Bhartiya Kisan Union, Haryana
Bhartiya Kisan Union, Punjab
Bhartiya Kisan Union, M.P.
Bhartiya Kisan Union, Himachal Pradesh
Bharatiya Krishak Samaj (BKS)
BJP Kisan Morchha
Desi Bihan Surakkhya Manch, Odisha
Green Brigade, Karnataka
Karnataka Rajya Ryotha Sanga (KRRS), Karnataka
Kerala Coconut Farmers Association (KCFA), Kerala
Maharashtra Shetkari Sangathan
Paschima Odisha Krushak Sangathan Samanvaya Samiti
Tamil Nadu Farmers Association, Tamil Nadu
Thalaanmai Uzhavar Iyakkam, Tamil Nadu
Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam, Tamil Nadu

 


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