India wants a “permanent solution”, something that was agreed to over a decade ago, so that there is certainty around its procurement programme for wheat and rice, instead of a temporary solution where any breach in prescribed limit can be challenged. The US and the EU have, however, used it as a bargaining tool to push their agenda and delay a decision every two years.
At a meeting in Geneva on Tuesday, the US is said to have bluntly said that finding a permanent solution was “not possible” at next month’s meeting in UAE, given the divergence in views.
Indian officials, however, insisted that public stockholding has to be dealt with separately on a fast-track, without linkages as per the existing mandates, and demanded a solution by next month, sources familiar with deliberations said.
At the meeting, the US officials argued that “peace clause”, which allows countries to avoid any dispute at WTO till a permanent solution is found, has helped India procure rice above market price and become the largest rice exporter, a charge that government has denied.
Apart from India, several other developing countries, including China and African and Caribbean nations, are pushing for a solution at a time when food security is at the core of government policy, considering shortage of grains and import restrictions in several parts of the world.