US and Australia question India’s new farm sector support scheme

Economy


NEW DELHI: The US and Australia have raised doubts about India’s new farm sector support scheme,Transport and Marketing Assistance (TMA) announced in March this year, at the World Trade Organization (WTO) saying it was trade distorting and perhaps, inconsistent with global norms.

This is the latest scheme to come under attack along with the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme that has been questioned by New Zealand even though Australia and the European Union have supported it.

New Zealand asked how income support schemes will help replacement of existing subsidies that India already provides on agricultural inputs and its transition plan to provide the direct income support to its small holder farmers.

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Under the scheme, the Centre promises to give Rs 6,000 per year to all farmers in three equal installments.

“There were heated debates on over 200 questions, a record number in agriculture policy review. India received most questions with its multiple policies under scrutiny,” said a Geneva-based trade official on the questions raised by the WTO members on each other’s agricultural policies.

The questions come amid India’s aim to double exports of agricultural commodities to $60 billion by 2022 by boosting shipment of agriculture commodities such as tea, coffee and rice and increase the country’s share in global agri-trade.

Australia, maintaining that the TMA scheme is an export subsidy, asked India to provide information on the average level of export subsidies provided for products covered by the programme for the past five years and how this scheme is consistent with the Nairobi WTO Ministerial commitment of 2015 which talked of reducing such subsidies.

Under the TMA scheme, the government will reimburse a certain portion of freight charges and provide assistance for marketing of agricultural produce to boost exports of certain commodities.



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