RSS affiliate cautions Union minister for Commerce Suresh Prabhu ahead of WTO huddle

SJM convenor Ashwani Mahajan reminded the minister of a proposal to push rules on fisheries subsidies at the December Ministerial while keeping a check on the developed countries to continue subsidies

Published: 08th October 2017 11:53 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th October 2017 11:53 AM   |  A+A-

Commerce minister Suresh Prabhu (File | AFP)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jairan Manch (SJM) has cautioned Union minister for Commerce Suresh Prabhu ahead of Marrakesh mini-ministerial WTO deliberations to be wary of developed countries pushing their interests in fisheries and agriculture.

In a letter to Prabhu, the SJM convenor Ashwani Mahajan has reminded the minister of a proposal to push rules on fisheries subsidies at the December Ministerial. "While we support sustainable fishing and think big industrial fishing needs to be discouraged, we are extremely worried that the current proposals being discussed will actually allow developed countries to continue with their subsidies while banning subsidies that are for small scale informal fishing in developing countries," Mahajan has argued.

He explained that the special and differential treatment which our fisherfolk urgently needs is not at all visible or actionable in the current proposals. "As you know, SJM has close connections with small scale fishers in India and has been fighting for their cause against mechanised deep sea fishing and we strongly urge you not to agree to any proposal that can affect their lives and livelihoods. Given the limited time available, it is better to reject bad outcomes than to try to improve them without doing thorough research on the implications. Such discussions can be taken up later," the RSS affiliate has advised the minister.

The Mini-Ministerial on the WTO to be held at Marrakesh, Morocco will lead up to the Buenos Aires Ministerial in December.

Furthermore, the SJM has pleaded with the minister to stay firm on agricultural subsidies -- AMS (Aggregate Measure of Support). "We support the proposal by India on eliminating the AMS and strongly urge you to push on this, while making it very clear that the development subsidies we get cannot be touched as these represent an important tool to support farmers in developing countries. More than 100 developing countries support us in this endeavour. India can create a good atmosphere in WTO in support of billions of small farmers in the world," added Mahajan.

The SJM has also exhorted Prabhu to urgently push for permanent solution on public stockholding, which has to be allowed without limits. "India must not accept very difficult compliance conditions, including those set out under the Peace Clause which makes it almost impossible to use. This decision needs to be taken by December Ministerial as has been agreed," added Mahajan in the letter to the minister.

The SJM also voiced its worries about proposals on investment facilitation that are being pushed in the negotiations. "We know very well from the history of the WTO that what starts off as simple facilitation can end up as crucial commitments on investor protection and market access. India is trying to revise its approach on investment protection as it faces millions of rupee damages in investment lawsuits. To take up an additional commitment in a multilateral forum on investment will be a major mistake at this point in time. India should abide by its position of totally rejecting any negotiations on investment, facilitation or otherwise as it has done in Geneva this year," argued Mahajan.

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