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Canada contradicting its WTO stand of challenging India’s farm subsidies

Canada has been consistently challenging farm subsidies in India which are seen as crucial for Indian farmers.

December 05, 2020 / 03:47 PM IST
File image of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

File image of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Canada and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been slammed for contradicting the stand the country has taken at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) of challenging India’s farm subsidies, by siding with farmers protesting against the three new contentious farm laws.

Canada has been one of the most ardent critics of India’s Minimum Support Price (MSP) system and other agriculture policies at the WTO. It has also questioned India’s domestic agriculture measures geared to provide food and livelihood security to farmers.

Recent comments by the Canadian PM Trudeau regarding the farmers’ protests in India are at odds with Canada’s aggressive stance at the WTO on India’s agricultural support to farmers, sources said.

Trudeau’s remarks hint at the issue being raked up for political reasons, sources added.

Canada is a member of the Cairns Group of agricultural exporters, whose “objective in WTO negotiations is to seek increased market access in countries like India” and seeks reduction in the agricultural subsidies provided to domestic producers.

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The Cairns Group, or Cairns Group of Fair Trading Nations, is an interest group comprising 20 agricultural exporting countries. Besides Canada, the group includes Australia, Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam.

According to a communiqué issued in 2013, the interest group seeks to promote further agriculture trade reform “in order to create a fairer and more predictable trading environment” for all agricultural producers.

The group had also expressed concern over the “trend of import restrictions inconsistent with the Agreements on the Application on Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Measures and on Technical Barriers to Trade on agricultural products”.

Trudeau has publicly backed Indian farmers’ agitation against the three contentious farm laws. Expressing concern over the situation, Trudeau had said his country will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protests.

Reacting to Trudeau’s comments, India on December 4 summoned the Canadian High Commissioner Nadir Patel and told him that remarks by Trudeau and others in his Cabinet were an “unacceptable interference” in India’s internal affairs. If continued, Patel was warned, it will have a “seriously damaging” impact on bilateral ties.

On December 1, the Ministry of External Affairs had called Trudeau’s remarks "ill-informed" and "unwarranted", saying the farmers’ protest was a matter pertained to internal affairs of a democratic country.

Canada has been consistently challenging farm subsidies in India which are seen as crucial for Indian farmers. In July and September, Canada registered a number of questions to India regarding farm subsidy. Some of these questions included the potential impact on the global market of India’s high volume of food stocks, and whether India is breaching its support limit for other farm goods as India had notified marginally exceeding its support for rice in 2018-2019.

In July 2019, Canada was one of many developed countries that reportedly attempted to take India to the WTO’s dispute settlement body over the MSP issue. This came even as the WTO General Council’s decision in November 2014 made it clear that the mechanism, under which WTO members will not challenge public stock-holding programme of developing members for food security purposes, will remain in place in perpetuity until a permanent solution is agreed.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Dec 5, 2020 01:22 pm

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