New Delhi: Asserting its sovereign duty to protect the fundamental right of citizens to life and livelihood, India today expressed confidence that it will be able to persuade the WTO membership to appreciate its sensitivities and take the issue forward in a positive spirit.

The government said India cannot accept the “unrealistic” proposal of the developed world on subsidies on foodgrain stockholding and wanted “timely correction of any imbalances or anomalies in the working of the system or its rules” to ensure that the WTO “works impartially and fairly in the interest of all its members and not just a select few”.

Making a statement in the Lok Sabha on the recent failed WTO talks, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said India is an “unwavering votary” of the multilateral trading system and reiterates its commitment to the WTO.

“We continue to believe that it is in the best interest of developing countries, especially the poorest, most marginalised ones among them, and we are determined to work to strengthen this institution,” she said against the backdrop of the US blaming India for stalling an agreement at the recent talks in Geneva.

Regretting the failure of the recent WTO talks, she said “a permanent solution on food security is a must for us and we cannot wait endlessly in a state of uncertainty while the WTO engages in an academic debate on the subject” which is what “some developed countries seem to be suggesting before they are ready to engage on this important issue”.

Emphasising that India will not waiver in its commitment to protect the interests of the consumers and producers, Sitharaman said “developing countries such as India must have the freedom to use food reserves to feed their poor without the threat of violating any international obligations. This is our sovereign right. It is our duty to protect our citizens’ fundamental rights to life and livelihood.”

Keeping the hope alive on the negotiations, she said, “I am confident that India will be able to persuade the WTOmembership to appreciate the sensitivities of India and other developing countries and see their way of taking this issue forward in a positive spirit.”

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Free Press Journal