This is not a fight to protect Indian trade interests but an independent nation’s sovereign right to provide food to the poor, says Rajeev Kher in meeting with African delegation
Shreerupa Mitra-Jha | August 21, 2014 | New Delhi
Commerce secretary Rajeev Kher has dismissed rumours that India opposed the trade facilitation agreement (TFA) so it could dump cheap grains in Africa under the garb of food security.
Speaking at an interactive session between heads of regional economic communities (RECs) of Africa and the Indian stakeholders, organised by the confederation of Indian industry (CII), Kher said that the Narendra Modi government is concerned about the strong attempts in Geneva to mislead and misinform other nations regarding India’s motives for its stand on stockpiling in the world trade organization (WTO). “This is not a fight for protecting Indian [trade] interests but an independent nation’s sovereign right to provide food to its poor,” he explained.
The third meeting between India and the RECs of Africa was held on August 20-21 in New Delhi.
Emphasising that eight African nations implement ongoing food security programmes through stockpiling, the commerce secretary said China, Latin American countries and 21 other nations have food security programmes despite reaching their de minimus levels on stockpiling. India, Kher stressed, has not reached that stage.
“Though many countries support the proposal, they are unable to come out for a variety of reasons, and thus it is being perceived as an Indian proposal,” Kher said.
New Delhi is hopeful of finding a solution to the foodgrain stockpiling issue at WTO when it reopens in September.
On July 31, India had decided not to ratify the WTO TFA without finding a solution to the public stockpiling for food security purposes, which is perceived, mostly by developed countries, to be a trade-distorting subsidy to farmers under existing WTO rules.
Assuaging the visiting delegation, Kher said that according to the Bali ministerial declarations, no country exercising a right to food clause will be allowed to export from its public stockpiling. In this context, he reminded heads of the delegation from African nations about India’s role in the patent versus generic drugs issue, which led to the opening of generic production of drugs in Africa, without which many Africans would not be able to afford drugs.
Kher also pointed out the strengthening trade relations between African nations and India – in 2003-04, 6 percent of India’s total exports were to Africa, which increased to 10 percent in 2013-14. Since the trade basket is diversifying, Kher also stressed the need for achieving greater complementarity between trade and services. The Indian government has expanded the duty-free, quota-free goods, which includes 98.4 percent of tariff lines from least developed countries (LDCs). Africa will be a major beneficiary of this.
Six of the eight RECs came for the meeting, which is seen as a precursor to the India-Africa forum summit in December this year where India has invited 54 African nations with whom it has diplomatic relations. The six RECs that attended the meet are common market for eastern and southern Africa (COMESA), east African community (EAC), economic community of central African states (ECCAS), inter-governmental authority on development (IGAD), the southern Africa development community (SADC), and the community of Sahel-Saharan states (CENSAD).
The economic community of west African states (ECOWAS) and the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) have not participated in the meetings.
The first and second India-RECs meetings were also held in New Delhi in November 2010 and 2011.
Though Africa has a number of RECs, only these eight are recognised by the African Union.
An underground rapper who grew up on Mumbai streets, Divine spins his music around his environment and poverty. His breakout single, ‘Meri Gully Mein’, along with fellow rapper Naezy caught Bollywood’s attention. The Hindi film ‘Gully Boy’ is inspired by their lives and gr
Anil Swarup, an IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre who retired in 2018, is a model bureaucrat who retained his optimism right till the end of service and exemplified dedication and commitment. His excitement at the opportunities that a job in the IAS provided is evident on every page of his new book publis
The question of reform of the civil services has been debated extensively at all levels at least over the last five to six decades after independence. Indeed, it was soon perceived that the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) may not be well equipped to deal with the problems of an emerging developing coun
Shouting vengeance at all and sundry while wriggling out of holes of our own making seems to be our very special national characteristic. Some recent instances are illustrative of this attribute. A number of business tycoons with thousands of crores of unresolved debts have fled abroad with the government
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) came into existence, based on a Resolution of the home ministry, dated April 1, 1963 – a sheer coincidence that it also happens to be April Fool’s day. Over the past few months, we have seen the CBI live up to its founding day with great zeal, being i
Gujarat was passing through a turbulent phase in the 1980s. The decade began middle class agitations against new reservation policies, and the caste friction turned communal under the watch of chief minister Madhavsinh Solanki, alienating majority of urban population on both counts. The ground was ripe for