India being criticized at WTO for ‘not answering questions’ on MSP subsidies.
India has come under fire at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for ‘avoiding questions’ raised by members about its minimum support price (MSP) programs for food grains, particularly rice, where its subsidies have exceeded prescribed limits, with some alleging that it did not respond adequately to concerns raised by members during consultations.
Countries such as the United States, Australia, Canada, the European Union, and Thailand told the WTO agriculture committee on Monday that India must respond to issues about its public stockholding (PSH) programs.
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‘India, on the other hand, stood firm and insisted on providing the best possible information and explanations during talks with interested members based on available information.’ It also stated that some of the questions presented had already been addressed in previous responses,’ according to the source.
Clause of peace.
India’s MSP programs are being scrutinized by the WTO since it is the first country to apply the Bali ‘peace clause’ to justify exceeding its 10% (of total rice production) ceiling for rice support in 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.
While the ‘peace clause’ allows developing countries to exceed the 10% limit without legal repercussions from members, it is subject to onerous reporting requirements and other limitations, such as not distorting global trade and not jeopardizing other members’ food security.
WTO members, particularly the United States, have accused India of failing to provide all required information in its notifications on a regular basis. Several members had previously stated that, while it was essential under the ‘peace clause’ to notify all public stockholding programs, India had not been doing so, and the country also lacked a sufficient monitoring structure to ensure no stocks were exported.
‘There is no obligation.’
New Delhi stated that it provided statistics on the value of production (VoP) for numerous crops and that it was not required to declare any public stockholding programs other than for the crop where subsidy limitations were exceeded.
During the agriculture committee meeting, the United States, Brazil, Canada, Ukraine, Thailand, the European Union, and Australia informed the committee of all questions raised in their individual consultations with India and stated that the country should respond to the committee rather than avoid the questions.
India, on the other hand, stated that it was under no need to offer written responses because consultations are normally oral exchanges, and that it had supplied information and clarifications to the best of its ability, according to the source. ‘India also stated it might provide additional clarifications on lingering member concerns by filing a corrigendum to its earlier Bali appendix notifications,’ the source added.
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The countries that expressed their dissatisfaction with India’s response said they were waiting for New Delhi to confirm the second round of consultations with members.