India firm on WTO deal, will sign only if concerns dealt

2014-08-01T125507Z_5_LYNXMPEA701G4_RTROPTP_2_INDIA-USANEW DELHI/GENEVA – India made its stand clear on the fact that global trade deal will only be signed if other World Trade Organization members can agree to its parallel demand for concessions on stockpiling food, senior officials confirmed on Friday.

India demanded WTO to consider an agreement giving it more freedom to subsidise and stockpile food grains than is allowed by WTO rules. It was not immediately clear if the latest comments by Indian officials would open a window for the deal to be resurrected.

The officials in New Delhi said the deal could be signed as early as September if the demands are considered. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, during his visit to India, told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India’s refusal to sign the trade deal had weakened the country’s image. India has insisted that, in exchange for signing the trade facilitation agreement, it must see more progress on the parallel pact. India is looking on a permanent agreement on its subsidised food stockpiling which must be in place at the same time as the trade facilitation deal, well ahead of a 2017 target set in Bali last year. Most diplomats had expected the pact to be rubber-stamped this week, marking a unique success in the WTO’s 19-year history which, according to some estimates, would add $1 trillion and 21 million jobs to the world economy.

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