India to seek permanent solution to food security issue at WTO

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today pitched for a permanent solution to the food security and agriculture subsidy issues at the Nairobi WTO meet, to be held later this year.

While addressing the inaugural ceremony of the third India-Africa Forum Summit, he said India and Africa also seek a global trading regime that serves development goals and improves trade prospects.

"When we meet at Nairobi Ministerial of the WTO in December, we must ensure that the Doha Development Agenda of 2001 is not closed without achieving these fundamental objectives," he said here.

"We should also achieve a permanent solution on public stock-holding for food security and special safeguard mechanism in agriculture for the developing countries," he said. The WTO's General Council, the highest decision making body of the organisation, had accepted India's demand for extending the peace clause till a permanent solution is found for its food stockpiling issue.

For a permanent solution to the food security issue, India had proposed either amending the formula to calculate the food subsidy cap of 10 per cent which is based on the reference price of 1986-88 or allowing such schemes outside the purview of subsidy caps.

If no solution is found by the agreed deadline of December 31, the peace clause will continue till the time a solution is found.

Talking about bilateral trade between India and Africa, Modi said, the trade has more than doubled to over 70 billion dollars in less than a decade.

"India is now a major source of business investments in Africa. Today, 34 African countries enjoy duty free access to the Indian market," Modi said.

Emphasising on the significance of Africa for India, Modi said, "African energy helps run the engine of the Indian economy, its resources are powering our industries, and African prosperity offers growing market for Indian products." He added that Africa's economic growth has gathered momentum and has a more diversified base.

African initiatives are replacing old fault lines with new bridges of regional economic integration, he said. Modi also said that technology can be a strong foundation of the partnership between India and Africa.

"It will help develop Africa's agriculture sector. Africa has 60 per cent of the world's arable land reserves, and just 10 per cent of the global output," Modi added. Agriculture in Africa can drive the continent's march to prosperity and also support global food security.

India's expertise in healthcare and affordable medicines can offer new hope in the fight against many diseases; and give a newborn a better chance to survive.

"We will also collaborate to develop Indian and African treasures of traditional knowledge and medicines," he said. Prime Minister also said with both India and Africa can use digital technology to transform development, public services, governance, disaster response, resource management and quality of life.

"We will expand and extend the Pan Africa E-Network, conceived by late President APJ Abdul Kalam, which links 48 African countries to India and to each other. This will also help set up your Pan Africa Virtual University," he said. Talking about blue economy, Modi said we will cooperate for sustainable development of Blue Economy that will become important future drivers of our prosperity.

"For me, Blue Economy is part of a larger Blue Revolution to reclaim our blue skies and blue waters, as we move on the path of clean development," he said.

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