New Delhi, Feb 9: The World Trade Organization has the mandate to find a permanent solution to the contentious issue of public stockpiling of food by the end of 2017,its Director General Roberto Azevedo said on Thursday. A temporary solution to the issue reached in 2014 allowed signing of the WTO’s historic Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in goods, he noted. “We have a mandate to find a fil solution to the food stockholding issue by December, and hope to come up with a solution at the Ministerial Conference this year in Buenos Aires (Argenti),” Azevedo told reporters here at an interaction organised by industry chamber CII. “At the Bali ministerial, we found a temporary solution through the so-called Peace Clause, that will be in effect indefinitely till a permanent solution is found,” the Director General said. “I would say that on food stockholding talks are at a more advanced stage and we have a mandate to conclude the negotiations by the end of the year,” he added.
Azevedo also said that a discussion paper on the issue had been presented by the G-33 group of countries, but “which has not evolved further”. Following India’s agreement with the US on the issue in 2014, the Bali Ministerial Conference came up with the “Peace Clause” that permitted uninterrupted implementation of India’s food security programme indefinitely till a permanent solution is found by the multilateral trade system. This allowed signing of the TFA global agreement on streamlining customs rules. (IANS)