The stage was set on Thursday in Geneva for a multilateral boost to the stagnant global trade.
The World Trade Organization removed, by a special general council resolution, the perceived ambiguity over the permanency of a peace clause for the benefit of developing countries breaching limits set on product-specific support to agriculture. It also approved a protocol on the trade facilitation agreement (TFA), meant to add $1 trillion to the global economy by easing customs rules.
Commerce secretary Rajeev Kher confirmed that the WTO general council at Geneva approved the deal late on Thursday. Commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman will make a statement in Parliament soon, he added.
This is the first major deal for trade reform in the WTO’s 19-year chequered history, and was supported by all its 160-member countries.
A July 31, 2014, deadline for finalising the TFA protocol could not be met as India, with support from a tiny group of developing countries, insisting that their concerns on public stockholding for the food security purpose be addressed with the same seriousness as TFA, for the world body’s December 2013 Bali package to be implemented.
What enabled Thursday’s resolution is an agreement between the US and India in the run-up to the G-20 summit at Brisbane in Australia, underlining the perpetual nature of the peace clause till a lasting solution to the vexed issue is found. The ice was broken during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington in late September.
The peace clause ensures that WTO members will not challenge developing countries’ food security programmes at the WTO dispute settlement body until a permanent solution regarding this issue has been agreed on and adopted. FE
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