WTO Stand-Off Ends, India, US Reach Deal On Food Security

A file photo shows Indian flood affected children eating food at an army relief camp after floods hit Sure Chack village about 17 km from Jammu, India, 12 September 2014. India reached an agreement with the United States on stockpiling food that had stalled a key global trade deal for months. EPA/JAIPAL SINGH

NEW DELHI (DPA) – India has reached an agreement with United States on stockpiling food that had stalled a key global trade deal for months, Trade Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Thursday.

India's insistence on retaining its right to stockpile and subsidize staple foodstuffs for the poor has held up talks on the Trade Facilitation Agreement under World Trade Organization rules.

"We are extremely happy that India and the US have successfully resolved their differences relating to the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes in the WTO in a manner that addresses our concerns," Sitharaman said in New Delhi.

"This will end the impasse at the WTO and also open the way for the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement," she said.

India's previous government signed up to the deal to streamline global trade in Bali, Indonesia, in December.

But India's new leader Narendra Modi, in August refused to ratify it unless provisions were added to allow for its planned massive food subsidy and stockpiling programme, in excess of current WTO rules.

India's proposal on food security will be now placed before the WTO General Council when it meets next month.