Global Economy

European Union ready to talk food stock policy at WTO

The European Union has said it is willing to negotiate on global trade norms on the way governments purchase, stockpile and distribute food to ensure food security, issues pushed by India at the World Trade Organisation and deadlocked for the past 10 years.

The move is seen as a significant breakthrough ahead of a key ministerial conference of the WTO next year where India, among 80 others is keen on a deal on food security, insisting that the extant rules don’t adequately address market failures such as food hoarding and market speculation that drive up food prices and inflation during crises.

“The EU has shown willingness to negotiate the public stockholding issue with India,” said a Geneva-based official.


The grouping of 80 countries has said that a permanent solution for public stockholding should account for inflation and also be based on a recent reference price instead of an old one, which is based on 1986-88 prices. They have also proposed to amend the anti-circumvention clause in the Bali Ministerial Declaration of 2013, as per which developing countries who procure food stocks for security “do not distort trade or adversely affect the food security of other members”.

The US and the EU have so far opposed this approach. At an agriculture negotiations meeting of the WTO on Monday, the EU in a significant change in stance said a safeguards mechanism to prevent illegitimate exports stemming from excessive food stocks were key to deal with the possible impact of public stockholding policies. Public stockholding is a policy tool used by governments to purchase, stockpile and distribute food when needed.


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