New Delhi (ABC Live): The Members of World Trade Organization have raised questions over India’s export subsidies on sugar and other farm trade programmes.
India’s new support programme for sugar sparked comment among a number of delegations with some urging India to remove immediately what they described as export subsidies that will potentially impact world trade, when WTO members met as the Agriculture Committee on 21 March 2014.
The discussion was about one of 31 sets of questions and answers, a key part of the agenda of the committee, whose major responsibility is to oversee the present Agriculture Agreement and members’ commitments in agriculture. (The questions can be found in document G/AG/W/119 (pdf).)
The largest numbers of comments from delegations were on India’s sugar programme. The topics that also aroused interest included Costa Rica’s on-going breach of its domestic support limit resulting from its guaranteed rice prices and its intention to correct this breach in 2015 (the US said it appreciated the fact that Costa Rica had shared information consistently but that breaches of commitments are always a serious concern), Thailand’s rice support programme known as “paddy pledging”, Canada’s reclassification of pizza toppings to prevent traders avoiding import duties, and India’s domestic support for rice and wheat and its food security programme. (See details below)
Meanwhile, members continued their work on implementing the decisions and a declaration from the December 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, and they discussed information that members shared on their policies, including the latest US Farm Bill, and trends in trade and agricultural trade policies.
And a voluntary solution has been found to the long-running question of how to update the 1995 list of significant exporters — used to define who should provide information on their exports in order to help members monitor whether exports might have hidden subsidies. The solution is voluntary because members have failed to agree on a formal decision.