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Government misleading people on resolving WTO impasse: Congress

Government misleading people on resolving WTO impasse: Congress

New Delhi: The Congress Friday accused the Narendra Modi government of hiding the truth and said its claim of having reached an agreement with the US on resolving the impasse in WTO was a "deliberate attempt to mislead the people".

Congress deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma said in a statement that the BJP-led government was resorting to "one-upmanship" and the issue of public stockholding for food security was actually forced by India at the Bali ministerial meet and it had been secured and protected.

"The commerce minister's (Nirmala Sitharaman) statement attributing that the agreement reached at Bali ministerial meeting was temporary peace clause is factually incorrect and political dishonesty," Sharma said.

He said it was India's strong and uncompromising stance that forced the issue of procurement of foodgrains for public stock holding on the Bali WTO agenda despite stiff opposition from the US, the European Union and other developed countries.

"India fought tenaciously and succeeded in putting together a global coalition of developing countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. That forced the developed countries to cede ground, and agree to negotiate a permanent solution to change the dated WTO rules," he said.

Sharma said India also secured for itself and other developing countries protection from any challenge at WTO for any breach until negotiated permanent solution was found.

Sitharaman Thursday said an agreement has been reached with the US on the issue of food stockpiling which meant an end to the impasse over the WTO accord to ease global customs rules.

She added that the deal opens the way for a consensus on the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) which had eluded the World Trade Organisation members in July.

Sharma said NDA government had engaged in needless posturing by stalling the TFA and insisting for a permanent solution by Dec 2014.

"The TFA was among the nine agreements which were reached at the WTO Ministerial meeting in Bali. By refusing to honour the Bali agreement, the BJP government embarrassed India and left it globally isolated. It also adversely affected the credibility of India in multilateral forums," he said.

"It is, therefore, strange that government now claims to have resolved bilaterally with the US. It has been India's firm and consistent position that multilateral agreements and issues can only be revisited in the concerned multilateral organisations which, in this case is the WTO," Sharma added.

He said the claim is nothing but "a face-saver from the US to extricate India from a situation which was this government's creation."

"The prime minister and his Government are better advised not to make claims that will invite more ridicule," he said.

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