India and the US recently reached an agreement on food stockpiles, allowing India to continue its food subsidy program and eliminating a major obstacle to a stalled global trade deal. The removal of this obstacle allows India to return to the negotiating table for the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, the largest trade deal in the WTO’s recent history. The agreement between India and the US came on the heels of the EAS summit, preceding the G20 summit.
In his opinion piece for the Financial Times, Kavaljit Singh explains that food security is a politically sensitive issue in India; the government heavily subsidizes food production and the right to food is enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Singh notes that India has been lobbying the WTO to revise outdated farm subsidy rules for many years, though the issue only received attention once it became a potential impediment to the Trade Facilitation Agreement (FTA). The author highlights the importance of this bilateral breakthrough between India and the US for continued negotiations for the FTA, and consequently for the WTO’s relevance and ability to deliver on multilateral trade negotiations. Singh elaborates that this bilateral agreement is also a “win-win” for US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi. For Mr. Obama, the agreement could be perceived as a “third major victory” following the US-China pact to cut tariffs on IT products and the US-China climate accord. For Mr. Modi, Singh writes that the newly elected Prime Minister will “likely portray this pact as a major victory at home and at his first G20 Summit”. Singh ends his piece by presenting skepticism on whether the other members of the WTO will be enthusiastic in accepting of this “standstill” provision.
The opinions expressed in the article summary above are the opinions of the author alone and not that of Global Summitry or its staff, editors and or advisers.
Singh, Kavaljit. “Guest post: US/India food deal and the WTO” Financial Times [Blogs], 15 Nov. 2014. Web. 22 Nov. 2014.