India urges WTO to allow export of food grains from public stock

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Yesterday (15 July 2022), India urged the World Trade Organization (WTO) to allow it to export food grains from its public stocks to countries facing food crisis.

According to WTO standards, countries are not allowed to export food grains from their public stocks as they are purchased at subsidized rates.

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“WTO limits that grain purchased in this way (from public stocks) cannot be brought to market for export. This is a condition that has existed since the days of the Uruguay Round. many times that (the surplus) of what we have for our small farmers…we are quite willing to trade,” India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a seminar on “Strengthening global collaboration to fight food insecurity” on the sidelines of the third meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Bali, Indonesia, reports our Correspondent in New Delhi.

Many countries are facing food shortages due to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

Around 70-80 countries, led by Singapore, are pushing WTO member countries to accept binding pledges not to expand export restrictions on food grains purchased under the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) United.

Some members, however, expressed concerns about a blanket exemption for WFP food purchases due to national food security considerations.

India, Sitharaman said, can help reduce food insecurity, but there is hesitation from the WTO.

India’s finance minister stressed that food, fuel and fertilizer are global public goods and ensuring access to them for developing and emerging economies is critical.

The world will celebrate 2023 as the International Year of Millet and since India is a major millet producing country in the world, it can make a valuable contribution to food security in the world through the production of millet, said Sitharaman.

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