Govt Should Explain Problems at WTO: Khurshid

Demanding an explanation from the government on the WTO logjam, former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid today said there were no problems when the previous UPA regime negotiated the matter.

The senior Congress leader said that the government has not "given a clear enough explanation" about the problems that have cropped up at the WTO (World Trade Organisation) and it should explain about the "new things" introduced during the latest round of negotiations.

"We need our food security and there are no two ways about it. That is why we (UPA government) also argued about it. At the same time we can't wreck an international organisation," Khurshid told PTI here.

"I will not castigate the government till I know what is the reason. They (government) have not given a clear enough explanation. All we know is that there is some problem with the WTO. Why there is a problem when we did not have a problem when Anand Sharma was negotiating and why there is a problem we should find out," he added.

India last week refused to change its stance on WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement. After hectic deliberations, WTO chief Roberto Azevêdo said that members have not been able to find a solution that would "allow us to bridge the gap" on the adoption of the protocol on the TFA.

New Delhi has been pressing for an amendment to WTO norms regarding stockpile of foodgrains, an issue critical to India's food security programme.

The current WTO norms limit the value of food subsidies at 10 per cent of the total value of food grain production. However, the support is calculated at the prices that are over two-decade old.

While the US has blamed India for the failure of FTA talks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that developed countries should understand the challenges of poverty in developing nations and their governments' responsibilities to address them.

Noting that India's stand has always been to protect its food reserves, Khurshid said his colleague and then Commerce Minister Anand Sharma had argued the matter vigorously and was able to persuade the WTO about the country's position.

"I don't know what new things have been introduced during the negotiations by the present government. I think they should explain it in Parliament and elsewhere," he said.

Khurshid was speaking on the sidelines of a power sector conference here organised by the Independent Power Producers Association of India (IPPAI).

"We must find ways of having a win win situation and we must therefore be able to negotiate and have dialogue in a manner which provides us with suitable and acceptable solution. We had found one during Anand Sharma's time, why that is being disturbed now is something that the government must explain," he said.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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