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EU urges flexible approach

Bali, Dec. 4 (PTI): Amid India’s hard posture that the food security issue is “non-negotiable”, the European Union today said every human had the right to food security but the programme should not distort the global agriculture market.

“Every human being has the right to food security, either living in India or (elsewhere). Discussion at stake is how do you make sure that the food security programme does not distort the agriculture market,” EU trade commissioner Karl de Gucht said at a press briefing after the plenary session of the WTO ministerial conference.

Trade ministers and diplomats from around 130 countries are participating in the four-day meeting that started yesterday.

The G-33, grouping of 46-member developing nations including India, China and Indonesia, has proposed to amend the WTO agreement on agriculture to procure foodgrains from poor farmers at a minimum support price and sell them to poor people at cheap rates through public distribution systems.

Developed regions such as the EU and the US are against the stockpiling of foodgrains, which is used by India to supply cheap grains under its food security programme.

India’s food security act entitles its 82 crore people to 5kg of foodgrains per person a month at Rs 1-3 per kg. The country needs 62 million tonnes foodgrains a year to implement the law.

Developed countries have raised concerns that India’s public stockholding will distort global prices if released in the international market. India, however, has said that it will not release that foodgrain in the global market.

“India has to show flexibility. If each one stick to its own solution then there will be no agreement,” Gucht said.

“We have to find a way on the food security issue and having a definite solution in Bali to my mind is not possible and I hope that India also realises this, and this paves the way for possible compromise,” he added.

On trade facilitation agreement, he said that the pact was important for everybody.

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