Nirmala Sitharaman: Allow India to export food grains from public stock to needy countries, FM Sitharaman tells WTO

India has urged the World Trade Organization (WTO) to ease rules to allow the country to export food grains from its public stocks to countries facing food crises.

“The WTO restriction that grain so purchased cannot be brought to market for export – this is a condition that has existed since the days of the Uruguay Round,” the finance minister said on Friday. Nirmala Sitharaman. “We have repeatedly said that (the surplus) of what we have for our small farmers…we are very willing to trade,” she told a seminar on the strengthening global collaboration to address food insecurity in Bali, Indonesia, ahead of the third meeting. finance ministers and central bank governors from the G20.

Questions Raised About the MSP Program

WTO standards do not allow countries to export foodgrains from their government stocks purchased at subsidized rates. India can help reduce hunger or food insecurity, but the WTO is hesitant. This at a time when the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and climate change have created food shortages in many countries.

India has exported 1.8 million tonnes of wheat since May 13, when an export ban was imposed, to meet previously agreed commitments.

Many developed countries have alleged that India offers minimum support prices to its farmers in violation of WTO rules.

In 2018, the United States questioned the legality of India’s minimum support price for rice, wheat and cotton. Other countries such as Australia have also raised questions regarding the Fair and Remunerative Price and the State Advised Price (SAP) granted to sugarcane growers.

A group of around 70-80 countries led by Singapore is pushing WTO member countries to accept binding commitments not to expand export restrictions on food grains purchased under the World Food Program (WFP) United Nations.

Some members, however, expressed concerns about blanket exemptions for WFP food purchases due to national food security considerations.

Sitharaman said food, fuel and fertilizers are global public goods and ensuring access to them for developing and emerging economies is essential. She said there was an urgent need to strengthen food production and the global food system.

Sitharaman also shared India’s experience, including strong gains in agricultural production, citizen-centered food security programs and innovative distribution mechanisms such as the One Nation One Ration Card program. “There are many, many such programs through which we have made sure that Indian farmers, no matter how tough the environment, produce and their cost is covered even if the vagaries of the market hit them negatively,” Sitharaman said. .

Capital expenditure

Sitharaman said India’s long-term growth prospects were being built into public capital expenditure programs and evidence-based policymaking is vital for resilient economic systems.

The budget presented in February increased capital expenditure by 35.4% for the current financial year to Rs 7.5 lakh crore to push an economic recovery driven by public investment. Capital expenditure in FY22 exceeded Rs 6 lakh crore.

The Finance Minister also said that a sustainable global recovery should be built on climate actions and that the focus should be on increasing climate finance and propelling green transitions.

Attending the second session of the G20 meeting, Sitharaman shared his views on the group’s health agenda, including pandemic preparedness and response mechanisms.

She also stressed the need for immediate mobilization and deployment of resources for health emergencies.

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