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PEACE CLAUSE FOR RICE IN THE WTO:India



  Apr 12, 2024

PEACE CLAUSE FOR RICE IN THE WTO:India



Background:

India has invoked the World Trade Organization (WTO) peace clause for rice for the fifth consecutive marketing year (2022-23), due to exceeding the prescribed subsidy limit for its farmers. With rice production valued at $52.8 billion during this period, India provided subsidies amounting to $6.39 billion, surpassing the 10% domestic support ceiling allowed under global trade norms.

The Peace Clause:

The peace clause, established during the Bali Ministerial Conference in 2013, permits developing countries to exceed the subsidy limits for essential crops like wheat and rice without facing legal repercussions, until a permanent resolution on the issue is reached. This clause is a crucial safeguard for countries like India, aiming to meet domestic food security needs without disrupting international trade.

India’s Stance:

India’s utilization of the peace clause comes amid concerns about meeting the food security requirements of its poor and vulnerable populations. The country defends its actions by emphasizing that its subsidies and public stockholding policies for rice are geared towards domestic food security and not intended to distort international trade.

The Issue of Domestic Support Ceiling:

A critical point raised by India is the outdated formula used by the WTO to calculate the food subsidy cap, based on reference prices from 1986-88. This outdated benchmark, according to India, inaccurately inflates the perceived level of domestic support provided to farmers, pushing India to exceed the WTO’s subsidy limits.

Seeking a Permanent Solution:

India has been actively advocating for a revision of the formula to calculate the subsidy ceiling and pushing for a “permanent solution” to the public stockholding issue at the WTO. The country argues that the current methodology is not reflective of contemporary economic realities, thereby hindering its efforts to support its agricultural sector and ensure food security.

Implications:

India’s repeated invocation of the peace clause underscores the broader challenges faced by developing countries in balancing WTO commitments with domestic food security objectives. The call for a permanent solution highlights the need for the WTO to update its rules to reflect modern economic conditions and the requirements of its diverse membership.

The situation also illustrates the complexities of global trade norms and the pressures on developing nations to provide support to their agricultural sectors while adhering to international agreements.


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