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Piyush Goyal sticks to India First stand, forces WTO to bend on fisheries

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal at the WTO's 12th MC (Pic: IANS)

In a breakthrough the 164 members of the World Trade Organisation arrived at a consensus after vigorous negotiations and green room talks on food security, harmful fishing subsidies and the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.(TRIPS) waiver.

Piyush Goyal, Commerce and Industry Minister said that India has been able to secure a favourable outcome at the WTO after many years, despite a strong global campaign against the country’s fishing community. However, he added that few countries were attempting to create a false campaign, initially New Delhi’s obstinate stand was coming in the way of progress in WTO talks.

Goyal said India remains committed to supporting the World Food Programme (WFP). Citing India’s recent wheat supplies to Afghanistan, he said the Government has imposed no export restrictions on WFP purchases for food security in other countries; however, domestic food security takes priority.

A government statement said that on e-Commerce, while agreeing to the temporary moratorium, India asked for intensifying discussions on the moratorium including on its scope, definition and impact for taking an informed decision on the same.

The WTO 12th Ministerial Conference, which kicked off on Sunday, was extended by a day to facilitate consensus on the main issues taken up.

On the contentious issue of subsidies being provided to the fisheries sector, the WTO agreed to check illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and put in place strict strict controls on overfished areas to restore fish stocks. Negotiations on fisheries subsidies have been going on for more than two decades now.

“..There have been no restrictions on fishing that our fishermen were deeply concerned about, that would bind artisanal and traditional fishermen of India in the future. India has been cent percent successful; no restrictions or terms have been placed on India or the Government, rather we have been successful in introducing checks on illegal fishing, under-reporting or outside regulation, viz IUU fishing,” he said.

Also read: India's global role as a net food security provider grows despite ban on wheat exports

India slams rich nations’ move at WTO to cut subsidies for poor fishermen