China and India to Discuss Food Safety Agreement


Food security will be a common ground for China and India to agree upon. The two neighbors are expected to jointly push for the food safety agreement at the World Trade Organization. Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit to China in this week will see the country leaders discussing the WTO issues on which they agree. Both the countries run public stockholding programs and food security is a critical issue on the agenda. Joint effort by the two countries will push the demand of the developing countries at the multilateral level, which has been dominated by a majority of the rich nations.

The present WTO rules restrict subsidies at 10% of the total value of production of that particular crop, but the prices have been calculated keeping 1986-88 as the base year. The G-33 nations have asked to revise the base year due to the high inflation since that period. The draft text also proposes more than 50% reduction in farm tariffs for developed countries in a span of 5 years and about 33% reduction in tariffs for developing countries in 10 years.

Last year, India faced criticism for not agreeing to the trade facilitation pact. The country stressed on devising a solution to public stockpiling along with the agreement on the trade facilitation terms. But it did not get the support from China or other G-33 nations during that time. By November 2014, India got exempted from WTO action for its agriculture subsidies until a solution was found. India has urged the member nations to expedite the process for a permanent solution.  The developing countries are in favor of the 2008 drafted text which allows programs to support low-income groups without being penalized, but the developed countries want to start the debate afresh. China also runs a public procurement program and sets minimum procurement prices for wheat and rice to ensure national food security. An official revealed that India and China will have detailed conversation about the stand at WTO on various issues.

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