Indian interests at the WTO Ministerial Conference
In the recent World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference’s twelfth outing (MC12) ended by securing agreements on relaxing patent regulations to achieve global vaccine equity; ensuring food security, according subsidies to the fisheries sector and continuing moratoriums relevant to ecommerce, among others. Together they are constituted as “Geneva Package.” India saw some successes at the MC12 with respect to the above mentioned sectors.
What were the debates around agriculture at the MC?
- India’s stand- Referring to its status as a significant contributor to the World Food Programme (WFP), India had earlier stated that it had never imposed export restrictions for procurement under the programme. It put forth that a blanket exemption could constrain its work in ensuring food security back home. In such a situation, it would have to keep its WFP commitments irrespective of its domestic needs.
- Humanitarian grounds- Negotiators agreed that member countries would not impose export prohibitions or restrictions on foodstuffs purchased for humanitarian purposes of the WFP. The central premise of the agreements was to ensure availability, accessibility and affordability of food to those in need, especially in humanitarian emergencies.
- Domestic food security- The decision would however not prevent member countries from adopting measures for ensuring domestic food security.