GS Paper - 3 (Economy)

India wants the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to allow exports of food grains from public stocks for international food aid and for humanitarian purposes, especially on government-to-government basis, an official said on 23 May 2022. India is also not in favour of giving binding commitment under the WTO on supply of food grains to the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) as it would restrict its policy space to deal with domestic food security concerns.

What

  1. At the WTO, India has been raising the issue that the exports from public stocks for the purposes of international food aid or for non-commercial humanitarian purposes, including on Government-to-Government basis should be allowed.
  2. The current WTO norms do not permit a member country to export food grains from public stock holdings as they are subsidised grains.
  3. A group of about 70-80 countries, led by Singapore, is pushing member countries of the WTO to accept binding commitments of not extending export restrictions on the food grains procured by the WFP.
  4. Some members, however, have voiced concerns regarding a blanket exemption for WFP food purchases due to domestic food security considerations.
  5. India is against taking any binding commitment, under the WTO, to provide blanket exemptions from export curbs for food purchases by the WFP as it would restrict India's policy space to provide food grains on Government-to-Government basis to other needy and neighbouring countries
  6. The issue would figure in the forthcoming meeting of the WTO in Geneva next month.
  7. India has been a significant contributor of the WFP over the years and it has lent extensive support to its immediate and distant neighbours with food supplies.
  8. Under WTO norms, a member country can temporarily impose export restrictions or prohibitions to prevent or relieve critical shortages of food stuffs or other products essential to the country.