The US, EU, Canada, Brazil and New Zealand have raised questions at India’s various farm policies including quantitative restrictions on pulses, sugar subsidies, and export subsidies through its transport and marketing assistance scheme. At a recent meeting at the World Trade Organization (WTO), they also asked New Delhi about the potential impact of its food stocks on the global market and if it is breaching its support limit for other farm goods like it did for rice.
This comes in the wake of India becoming the first country to invoke the peace clause for breaching the subsidy limit for rice for marketing year 2018-19. It informed the WTO in April that the value of its rice production was $43.67 billion in 2018-19 and that it gave subsidies worth $5 billion. The limit is pegged at 10% of the value of food production (called de minimis) in the case of India and other developing countries.
“Many questions were posed to India about its multiple agriculture policies and transparency issues arising from its new domestic support notifications,” said a Geneva-based official.
India has extended the import restrictions on peas, lentils, beans and other pulses by another year till March 31, 2021 and many countries have sought a removal of these and said they are no longer a temporary measure.
On the sugar subsidies issue, India said that though the government has not made a sugar export forecast for the 2020-21 sugar season, sugarcane production is projected around 3,900 lakh metric tonne of which 3,000 lakh MT is expected to be crushed by sugar mills to produce about 305 lakh metric tonnes of sugar.
As for its export subsidies for the transport and marketing assistance scheme, India said these are compliant with the Nairobi Ministerial Decision which allows developing countries to give export subsidies under the Agreement on Agriculture until the end of year 2023.
Separately, India, the EU, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand and five others flagged their concerns over the subsidies that the US gives its farmers. They asked how the US' total of $34 billion support can be justified as being in line with its commitment to the WTO as this amount is far higher than the $19.1billion ceiling for the US in agriculture domestic support.