India favours ‘support-per-farmer’ rule at WTO farm subsidy negotiations

Economy


India has countered a proposal by the US, EU, Australia and others that seeks to reduce the farm subsidies given by countries with higher potential to distort global markets. On this “proportionality principle”, it said the new negotiations on domestic support must be based on a “support per farmer” basis and not be defined in aggregate terms.

Besides, the first step of the negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO), India said, is to create a level playing field by getting rid of the aggregate measurement of support (AMS) or trade-distorting farm subsidies given by the developed countries.

“On the proportionality principle, India said that domestic support must be based on a ‘support per farmer’ basis, not be defined as sum total,” said a Geneva-based official, who did not wish to be identified.

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The 47-member G-33 coalition supported India’s ideas.

As per the official, India also said a level playing field can be created by getting rid of AMS entitlement beyond de minimis and that it is a form of reverse special and differential treatment. De minimis or the threshold caps the domestic support at 10% of the value of production but many developed countries have entitlements to provide domestic support well over 10% of the value of production.

The US, EU and Canada give $160 billion of trade-distorting form of farm subsidies to products including cotton, wool and tobacco, according to a submission by India and China.

India has maintained that AMS above de minimis has had a more severe impact on market uncertainty compared to de minimis entitlements. Therefore, its elimination is necessary to enable all members to start on an equal footing before talking about proportional contributions. It said agriculture reform is not only an import and export issue but also a food security issue.

“India will work with other interested members to put forth a technical submission on domestic support based on per farmer terms,” said the official. India also suggested that an analysis of the cumulative per farmer agriculture support that has been provided by WTO members from 1995 to the present be done, with those responsible for the biggest distortions in the past making the biggest contribution.

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