[Ip-health] FT: WTO clears way for landmark global trade deal

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Fri Dec 6 04:54:33 PST 2013


Last updated: December 6, 2013 11:45 am

WTO clears way for landmark global trade deal

By Shawn Donnan in Nusa Dua

India <http://www.ft.com/world/asia-pacific/india> and the
US<http://www.ft.com/world/us> on
Friday resolved their differences over how to push forward with
negotiations on food security, clearing the way for the first global trade
deal in almost two decades.

The agreement, which includes binding rules to clear red tape for goods at
borders around the world, marks a significant victory for the World Trade
a venue to draft the global rules of commerce.

Roberto Azevêdo, director-general of the WTO, was due to circulate a text
of an agreement to heads of delegations later on

Friday. Cuba <http://www.ft.com/topics/places/Cuba> and
Venezuela<http://www.ft.com/topics/places/Venezuela> were
still mounting a late battle against an agreement. But senior trade
officials said they expected to overcome those objections, clearing the way
for the body’s 159-members to approve the deal.

The agreement comes at the end of four days that have been dominated by
intrigue in Bali over Indian objections to a ‘peace clause’ meant to give
negotiators more time to update the WTO rules that apply to government
programmes to provide food to the poor.

During gruelling negotiations overnight Thursday and through most of the
day Friday chaired by Mr Azevêdo and Indonesia’s trade minister, Gita
Wirjawan, the US and India closed their differences over the terms of the
peace clause.

Officials close to the negotiations told the Financial Times that the deal
will give four years for negotiators to come up with a permanent solution.
It will be restricted to existing programmes and also prohibits anything
that might distort global markets. Any impact on markets will be monitored,
the officials said.

The issue of food security came to the fore in this week’s biennial
gathering of ministers from the WTO’s 159 member countries because of a new
food security programme approved by the Indian parliament over the summer.
Under its provisions, the Indian government buys food from farmers at a set
price and then sells it at heavily-subsidised prices to the 70 per cent of
the Indian population eligible.

As a result of Indian objections the issue of food security has
overshadowed the main provision of the Bali agreement, a “trade
facilitation” agreement that sets binding rules for removing red tape at
borders. The International Chamber of Commerce has said it will add up to
$1tn to the global economy by encouraging easier movement of goods,
although some contest that figure.

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