India to push for FCI aid to food crisis-hit nations

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NEW DELHI: Ahead of the WTO ministerial meeting that kicks off on Sunday, India has made it clear that it is going to push for using FCI‘s stocks to provide aid to countries facing a food crisis.
While nearly 80 countries are pushing the global trade body to back the World Food Programme (WFP)-driven scheme, an Indian official said on Thursday that the mechanism is already in place and, despite pledging large quantities, the WFP had drawn just around a 10th of the supplies from the country’s committed stocks.
Food security in the wake of soaring global prices due to disruptions after the Ukraine conflict is going to be a key theme, even as India reiterated its demand for finding a permanent solution to the public stockholding issue that was committed by the WTO members in 2013. India believes that it will provide a certainty to its food procurement programme operated through FCI.
Sources also indicated that India was open to discuss a reform programme for WTO as long as its basic character, including providing special and differential treatment to developing and poor countries, is not compromised. There have been attempts by the US, the EU and other developed countries to treat China, India and Brazil differently, a move that has been resisted by New Delhi.
India, which will be represented by commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal, is also keen that other key aspects like a consensus-based approach, an equal voice for all WTO members and dispute settlement should be retained. At the same time, it does not believe that plurilateral talks – where a group of countries finalise rules on aspects, such as, information technology, services or investment – should be provided legal backing under WTO decisions.

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