India to stick with subsidies, Kerry pushes for liberalisation

kerry india

US Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in India yesterday to co chair an India – US strategic dialog session to happen this afternoon. He has already met with India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and the Defense and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley this morning. He has indicated the major points of his agenda here through an article he co authored with U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and published in Economic Times.

The WTO deal for worldwide uniform reforms of customs is set for a deadline today and Kerry has set getting India’s approval for it in this visit. India has been the major roadblock for the significant deal that will take the economic liberalisation of the country to a new level, but also means scrapping of food subsidy schemes that are major policy requirements for any party in governance here. India has been asking for relaxations for food subsidies and stock piling of food grains for developing economies before passing the resolution. India has almost threatened with quitting from the WTO if the demands are not met.

The deal is calculated to be worth $ 1 trillion for the world economy and is expected to create over 21 million jobs.

“My delegation is of the view that the adoption of the TF (trade facilitation) Protocol be postponed till a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security is found,” Indian Ambassador Anjali Prasad said at an earlier WTO meeting. “Today we are extremely discouraged that a small handful of members in this organisation are ready to walk away from their commitments at Bali, to kill the Bali agreement, to kill the power of that good faith and goodwill we all shared, to flip the lights in this building back to dark,” US Ambassador Michael Punke said about the deal and India’s stance on it. Countries like Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia are supporting India on the issue.

“We will work hand in hand with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government to promote open and liberal trade and investment, jobs training and closer strategic ties,” Kerry and Pritzker wrote in the article published just hours before Kerry arrived here.

Other issues Kerry might focus on are intellectual property rights disputes and nuclear power generation programs on India and US role in it. IT goes unsaid that the tone set by Kerry in his meetings with Jaitley, Swaraj and Modi himself tomorrow morning will resonate in the all important September trip of the Indian PM.

Medaram Jathara

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