Canada, U.S. take India to task on WTO commitments

WINNIPEG – Canada and the United States are scheduled to be at the World Trade Organization’s Committee on Agriculture (COA) this week. The countries have demanded India live up to its commitments it made to the WTO, said Pulse Canada Chief Executive Officer Gordon Bacon.

Last week, Canada co-sponsored an U.S. counter notification that questioned India’s calculations regarding price supports for chickpeas, lentils, pigeon peas, black matpe and mung beans. The COA was scheduled to hear the matter on Feb. 26 and 27.

The North American countries alleged India provided price supports that were apparently well in excess to what the Asian country reported to the WTO.

“India’s response is their calculations were done in U.S. dollars, where Canada, the U.S. and perhaps Australia, joined in to do a calculation in rupees,” Bacon said.

“I think India did its calculation on only what it bought from farmers. Canada and the U.S. looked at total production and applied the calculation of support to that,” he continued.

Bacon explained the joint action is not a formal challenge to India, rather a questioning of how it arrived at its calculations.

“This is part of that process where other members have concerns over the practices of another WTO member, they can challenge these numbers,” he said.

Should the WTO’s Committee on Agriculture find India did exceed its commitments, Bacon questioned what remedial action could then be pursued and what would be required to launch a challenge.

He also noted this action is not linked to India’s election cycle. In an ongoing effort to win electoral support of the key rural vote, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party hiked duties on pulse imports such as those from Canada. India’s general election is expected to be called for this spring.

With files from Glacier Farm Media

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