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Statement by India at Informal TNC/HODs held on 2 March 2020

Informal TNC/HODs
March 2, 2020

Statement by India – Delivered by Ambassador & PR to the WTO

1. Thank you, DG, for convening this informal meeting of the TNC and for your report and assessment as the Chair of the TNC. We also thank you for the anti-Corona virus measures implemented by the WTO for preventing its spread and suggest that Members consider adopting the traditional Indian greeting of Namaste instead of shaking hands, without a detailed discussion on the ‘why’ question related to the Corona virus spread ! We also thank the Chairs of the Negotiating Groups on Rules, Agriculture and Development for their reports.

State of Play

2. The collapse of the Appellate Body, the attack on the principles that we have held dear, like non-discrimination and special and differential treatment, have cast a pall of hopelessness on the WTO. MC12, provides us an opportunity to address these grave challenges, if we can only get our act together.

Appellate Body

3. As a major user of the WTO’s dispute settlement system and with 4 appeals involving India awaiting adjudication by the Appellate Body, we are gravely concerned. We believe that the resolution of the Appellate Body crisis deserves the utmost priority and it should precede all other reforms.

4. We would, therefore, suggest that the US consider the solutions developed under the Walker Process seriously unless they have better alternatives to offer.

Fisheries Subsidies Negotiations

5. We must work rapidly to conclude the negotiations on ending harmful fisheries subsidies. Disciplines should focus on distant water and large scale industrial fishing, provide exemption and carve outs for the needs of small and subsistence fishermen who operate in the territorial seas and EEZs and seek greater contribution from those who provide large subsidies, both in value and on per capita basis. We also need to quickly converge the various approaches for O&O on the table and start negotiating the consolidated text covering all pillars. Further, we need to be mindful that concluding this negotiation would be difficult without S&DT for developing countries who need it and for LDCs as agreed to by our Leaders in SDG 14.6 and by our Ministers at MC11. This is a very sensitive issue involving livelihood of millions of marginal fishermen and there could be nothing more unequal than an equal discipline for unequals. Without appropriate S&DT, these negotiations would be doomed to end in a deadlock.


6. There has been a recent push, including in the Chair’s Report of 14 February, 2020, for advancement of negotiations on domestic support with the narrative of capping and reducing all forms of trade and production distorting domestic support. Our views on this issue are the following:-

(a) One, we are proponents of a sequential approach where FBT AMS entitlements are capped, reduced and eliminated first. Only once the playing field is levelled, should we have a discussion on disciplining other forms of domestic support. It needs to be kept in mind that FBT AMS is far more trade distorting than de minimis entitlements and reasons for this are clear. FBT AMS does not have any product specific limitations. All FBT AMS of a Member can be channelled into a single product, say cotton, thereby greatly distorting global trade in cotton. Further, members with FBT AMS entitlements can provide domestic support well over 10% of the value of production. In other words, the absence of a ceiling and flexibility of its application, make FBT AMS hugely more trade distorting than de minimis and, therefore, it needs to be disciplined on priority.

(b) Two, I would like to emphasize that Article 6.2 support is meant for low-income and resource-poor farmers in developing countries. This is a S&DT flexibility to support rural development, food and livelihood security of marginal farmers, therefore, by its very definition, it is minimally trade distorting. Therefore, there can be no question of accepting any limits or reduction in Article 6.2 support.

(c) Third, is the issue of proportionality. It is high per capita support that has the most trade-distorting effect on the global markets as it incentivizes large scale commercial production mostly for exports. Equating subsidies of 200 dollars per capita that Indian farmers receive with 60,000 dollars per capita in many developed countries is absurd. Therefore, domestic support disciplines need to be guided by per capita numbers as well.

7. To our mind, other mandated issues in Agriculture, like the permanent solution on public stockholding for food security, for which we have missed deadlines, need to be prioritized for MC12.


8. Chair, to conclude, we are at a critical juncture, only a few months away from the MC12. The results we achieve at Nur Sultan, especially on fisheries subsidy disciplines and resurrection of the Appellate Body, can increase the trust that the world reposes in the rules-based multilateral trading system. In order to succeed, we need to prioritize a balanced agenda that is inclusive and development-oriented. I hope that all delegations will seize this opportunity with both hands !

9. I thank you, Chair.