India Opposed U.S. Farm Subsidies

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July 21 – India has strongly opposed an extention of agricultural subsidies granted to the United States at the recently held Doha round of global free trade talks being held in Geneva.

The latest draft on agriculture modalities circulated by committee of agriculture chairman Crawford Falconer has given a special ‘carve-out’to the US in the form of a different base period for subsidy calculation than others which will allow it to maintain a higher subsidies of US$5 million.

“Developed countries, including the US and the EU, cannot be given ‘carve-outs’ like the LDCs. We have opposed these carve outs,” commerce & industry minister Kamal Nath said at a press conference in Geneva. The draft modalities text has allowed the US to maintain a base period of 1995-2004 for calculating subsidy cuts instead of 1995-2000 agreed for all other members. “The special carve-out has been given since the US’ agri subsidies were very high in the 2000-2004 period. With a higher base, their reduction commitments will be much lower,” commerce secretary G K Pillai told the Economic Times.

The US and EU subsidies their farmers, who are able to sell agricultural products to developing countries at ridiculously low prices, which in turn harms farmers in developing countries,

While India is opposing the ‘carve-outs’ given to developed countries in agriculture, it is pushing for a good deal in special products and special safeguard measures for protecting its poor farmers as part of the G-33 alliance. While discussions on SSM is still inconclusive, India is trying to ensure it gets a higher number of SPs in the zero tariff cut bracket. “Developed countries are fighting for ‘carve-outs’ to protect rich farmers who earn millions of dollars.

The US wants provisions for continued prosperity of farmers whereas we want provisions for livelihood security of farmers. These two things cannot be traded off,” the minister said. The commerce minister has already met his counterparts from Brazil, China and South Africa to discuss these issues. Rubbishing reports that Brazil wanted to move out of the powerful G 20 alliance of developing countries in agriculture, Mr Kamal Nath said: “We have reached so far because of G-20”.

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