The US is willing to mediate between India and the World Trade Organization (WTO) to find a solution to the food stockpile issue, to pave the way for the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), Nirmala Sitharaman, minister of state for finance and corporate affairs, said here on Friday.
“The US is not entirely opposing India’s stand, but it is interested to make others understand India’s point of view on the issue of food subsidies,” Sitharaman said, on the sidelines of the National Symposium on Manufacturing and Best Practices to Improve the Business Environment.
Stating that India would be able to convince the WTO about the need for developing countries to give subsidies on food stock, Sitharaman said, “Besides US, we are also in discussion with other countries.”
Sitharaman’s clarification came in response to a question on the opposition by the US to India’s stand on the WTO issue.
India has refused to ratify the trade facilitation agreement, citing the need for a permanent solution to issues concerning its food security plan.
Sitharaman had earlier said India will not compromise on the interest of poor farmers and consumers at the WTO and has sought complete resolution of the foodgrain stockpile issue, which is essential for unhindered implementation of the country’s food security programme.
Justifying India’s tough stand, which had led to collapse of the WTO Geneva talks on July 31, Sitharaman had said that without a permanent solution, public stock holding programmes in India and other developing countries will be hampered by the present ceiling on domestic support which is pegged at 10 per cent of the value of production and is wrongly considered as trade-distorting subsidy to farmers under existing WTO rules.
The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the current financial year will be more than the 5.5 per cent predicted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
The central bank in its annual report for 2013-14 had projected GDP growth for 2014-15 at 5.5 per cent. “Absolutely, the growth will be more than 5.5 per cent”, Sitharaman told reporters. “This may be good news but the government is more focused on looking at every possible thing we need to do and work at such a pace so that growth can be high and sustainable for benefitting all.”
She, however, declined to give any specific projection. “We are working towards such growth rates which would be sustainable.”
With greater political stability, commitment to fiscal consolidation, strengthening of the monetary policy framework and better policy implementation, GDP growth is expected to be around 5.5 per cent in 2014-15 from the sub-5 per cent in the preceding two year, RBI had stated in its report.
Stating that government’s commitment is to work in such a way as to attain sustainable high growth rate, Sitharaman said, unless growth is at a level, which is well over the prevailing rates, the benefits of economy cannot reach all sections of people to realise the Prime Minister’s dream of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas (with all and development of all).
The forecast of the RBI just revalidated the prediction earlier this year and was in line with most economists, but below the prediction of the government, which is expecting the economy to expand by more than 5.5 per cent during this financial year.