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India seeks cut in trade distorting agriculture subsidies by US, European Union

NEW DELHI: Seeking to promote export of farm produce, developing nations including India are pressing for reduction of trade distorting agriculture subsidies by the US and the EU, Parliament was informed today. 

"India and other WTO Members have been seeking reduction in trade distorting domestic support of both these Members in the agriculture negotiations under the 
DohaRound of trade negotiations in the WTO," Minister of State for Commerce and Industry D Purandeswari said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. 

As per their latest notifications to the WTO in 2010, she said, the US provided about $4 billion of support to their agricultural producers "under the category of Current Total Aggregate Measurement of Support (i.e. support considered under WTO classification as trade-distorting) and $ 120 billion as Green Box support (non-trade-distorting)". 

Similarly, the 
European Union provided 9 billion euro as Current Total Aggregate Measurement of Support and about 64 billion euro as Green Box support. 

"In addition they provided approximately Euro 5 billion as direct payments under production-limiting programmes," Purandeswari said. 

On the forthcoming WTO Ministerial Meeting, which is scheduled in December in Bali, she said that efforts are being made to build consensus around a package for an early outcome of the stalled Doha Round of talks. 

"The package being negotiated includes trade facilitation (TF), some agricultural issues including food security, some issues relating to 
LDCs etc," she added. 

The minister said that some developed Members, including the US have objected a proposal tabled by developing countries related to food security, while pressing for an early agreement on TF. 

"India, alongwith the other developing countries and the LDCs, are working for finalisation of a package that is balanced and development-oriented in keeping with the mandate of the Doha Development Agenda," she said. 

Doha round of talks under the aegis of the WTO started in the Qatari capital in 2001 for achieving a 
global trade deal, but a breakthrough has not emerged as yet. 

Further, Purandeswari said that in the WTO negotiations on industrial goods, developed countries want some prominent developing nations like India, China and Brazil to take commitments of complete duty elimination in specific sectors like electronic products, chemicals and industrial machinery. 

However, she said: "India has reservations on account of the effect of such a commitment on sectors and products which are critical for employment generation and economic growth." 

There is also a proposal to eliminate tariffs on a list of environmental goods, which has not been supported by India and some other developing countries, Purandeswari said. 

Besides, the minister said that India has raised concerns relating to the unfair trade practices and policies being followed by the US which have an effect on New Delhi's exports. 

These include the exorbitantly high countervailing duty imposed on Indian steel products, and the US policy of giving preference to their domestic 
solar energy equipment manufacturers for availing subsidy, thereby discriminating against imported products. 

"India has also raised objections on the domestic content requirements of certain renewable energy programs and water utility projects of the US," the minister said.