Hindustan Times (Delhi)

India updates WTO on food subsidies for 2nd time in 3 months

- Asit Ranjan Mishra asit.m@livemint.com

NEWDELHI: India has updated data on its food subsidies to the World Trade Organizati­on (WTO) for the second time in three months, submitting details for the financial year 2016-17.

While India insists its public procuremen­t of rice which increased to $2.5 billion in 2016-17 from $2 billion a year ago is well within its WTO commitment­s, countries like the US claim India may have already breached its permissibl­e limit of food subsidies.

WTO rules cap government procuremen­t for subsidized food programmes by developing countries at 10% of the total value of agricultur­al production based on 1986-89 prices. These figures are always reported in dollar terms.

In the absence of a deal at the WTO ministeria­l meeting held in Buenos Aires in December to allow developing countries a free hand to procure staples for their subsidized food programmes, India seems to have fast-tracked its food subsidy notificati­on obligation­s at the multilater­al body to use an interim reprieve agreed in 2013 as and when required to ensure it does not violate WTO rules.

“We are still within 6% for rice. It will take another two to three years for us to reach 10%. But a lot will also depend on the value of the rupee,” a government official said under condition of anonymity.

Biswajit Dhar, professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University said India still has enough headroom and it should not worry about breaching the 10% limit any time soon. “We are under pressure to keep our food subsidy notificati­ons updated because there was a legacy issue we didn’t notify for a long period of time,” he added.

However, the US has raised doubts about India’s calculatio­ns, arguing it may have already breached the 10% limit.

 ?? AFP ?? US claims India has already breached WTO’S permissibl­e limit of food subsidies
AFP US claims India has already breached WTO’S permissibl­e limit of food subsidies

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India