SHRI ANAND SHARMA: This is a new agreement. That is all. Please confirm that you have reached a new agreement.
SHRIMATI NIRMALA SITHARAMAN: I will come to that. That is one of the points that you have raised, and I will certainly come to it. I am only beginning my answer.
(Contd. by TDB-2S)
SHRIMATI NIRMALA SITHARAMAN (CONTD.): Bali was an imperfect Agreement, and it required a course correction, and it was that course-correction that this Government had engaged in from July. And in doing so, we ensured that a new decision, I am addressing your answer...
SHRI ANAND SHARMA: You address the Chair, and the rules of this House... ...(Interruptions)...
SHRIMATI NIRMALA SITHARAMAN: I thought, I started with you, Sir. I thought, I started by saying, “Mr. Deputy Chairman, Sir,...
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: No, problem; you proceed.
SHRI ANAND SHARMA: Okay; बोलिए, बोलिए, कोई इश्यू नहीं है।
SHRIMATI NIRMALA SITHARAMAN: It is a new decision, and I would certainly underline the fact that it is a new decision because the WTO’s General Council said very clearly, and I will read it. What was done in Bali is read like this, Bali Ministerial Decision of 7th December, 2013, and I quote; “Members agreed to put in place an interim mechanism, as set out below, and to negotiate on an Agreement for a permanent solution for the public stockholding for food security purposes, for adoption by the 11th Ministerial Conference”, which, if I may remind, it is not mentioned here, it is 2017. And the next paragraph, which is paragraph 2 says, and I quote, “In the interim”, the word ‘in the interim’ is used there, “In the interim, until a permanent solution is found, and provided that these conditions and so on...” So, it goes on like this. This is Bali 2013.
What is now? Again, I am reading; I am quoting from Decision of 27th November, 2014. The General Council having regard to paragraph 1 of article 9 of the Marrakesh Agreement, establishing the World Trade Organization and so on, conducting the functions of the Ministerial Conference in the interval between meetings pursuant to paragraph 2 of article 4 of the WTO Agreement, and recognizing the importance of public stockholding for food security purposes for developing countries, mooting the Ministerial decisions, so and so, 7th December, 2013 on public stockholding for food security and so on, decides that”, please note the word, “decides”. Therefore, let us be clear, this is a new decision with a new date, and I am quoting it. It is not as if I am giving an interpretation. So, that issue, which was raised by Shri Anand Sharma is answered. What did we achieve out of this? The Peace Clause extended not just for four years, but for perpetuity. So, is that ambiguity which prevailed going to be till the 11th Ministerial which is in 2017? Is it only for four years from 2013, when the Agreement was signed? Is it just interim? And, after the interim, if a permanent solution is not found, what is going to happen? All that has been very clearly said; the ambiguity has been removed. The new decision, as I very clearly...
SHRI ANAND SHARMA: Mr. Deputy Chairman, through you, can I just ask one thing from the hon. Minister?
SHRIMATI NIRMALA SITHARAMAN: Can I just finish? ...(Interruptions)... I am not yielding.
SHRI ANAND SHARMA: Because she said,...
SHRIMATI NIRMALA SITHARAMAN: I am not yielding here; I am not yielding here.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: She is not yielding.
SHRIMATI NIRMALA SITHARAMAN: I think, courtesy requires that I finish and answer.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: After she finishes. She is not yielding.
SHRI ANAND SHARMA: Let her complete.
SHRIMATI NIRMALA SITHARAMAN: The ambiguity which prevailed has been removed, and for that, I will just take two pointed examples. The language, the hon. Member, my predecessor, repeatedly spoke about, is simple English. I am a student of English; I try to keep learning English. I submit here that English here now, to me, and to my understanding, is unambiguous. Please correct me, if I am wrong. Unambiguous language, I just want to put it in front of the hon. Members.
(Contd. by 2T-KLS)
SHRIMATI NIRMALA SITHARAMAN (CONTD.): '..shall not take to dispute' is the word which is being used now instead of 'in the interim will exercise due restraint'. I am quoting from 2013 Bali. 'In the interim will exercise due restraint' were the words used whereas what is now being used is 'shall not take to dispute'. To me, this seems to be fairly unambiguous. ...(Interruptions)... Second, unambiguous again, in 2013 the language which was used was 'in the interim till a permanent solution is found'. Now the language which is being used, which many Members, of course, do remember highlighting that what if a solution is not found. 'Found' is the word on which we were playing; therefore, I am trying to tell you that 'found' is not the word any longer used. It is now 'till a permanent solution is agreed and adopted'. And here I would immediately like to draw your attention, many of the Members who have raised that legitimate question, what if a solution is imposed on us, or what if a solution is going to encroach into the sovereign rights of Indian decision making. There cannot be a solution found which is 'unagreeable' to us. The solution which is going to be found now is a permanent solution whenever it is found for, which Mr. Raja referred to it, what is this best endeavour, maximum, all of us have to work for it. But when a permanent solution is going to be worked out it has to be 'agreed upon' by all us and then adopted. It is not a permanent solution which is going to be found from somebody's hat as it were like a rabbit in a magic show and given to us. It is something which all of us will be working on and that which will be agreed upon and then subsequently adopted. So, my simple English tells me that the ambiguity is largely removed. If there is still any ambiguity in anybody's mind, I would like to be informed about it. So we will work on it after that. So, there is no ambiguity in the language. What is better now again between 2013 and 2014? 2014, Sir, has an accelerated mechanism to get a permanent solution in the sense dedicated sessions are going to be held of the Special Session of the Committee on Agriculture, supervised by the TNC, in the sense by the General Council. So, there are going to be mechanisms which are very well in place through which accelerated processes will work out for a solution for agriculture related matters. Therefore, this new decision has improved upon the Bali of 2013. Then again the negotiations for a permanent solution are now certainly on a separate track. Many hon. Members referred to paragraph 10 of what I had spoken in August, separate track from the agriculture negotiations so that under the Doha Development Agenda, it ensures priority, it brings in greater focus and it brings in continuation for negotiations for a permanent solution. This 'interim' is no longer being there, we have a peace clause given in perpetuity, and, therefore, this is much better, improved and a new decision. There are no conditions, no new concessions and no new compromises made. That in passing I want to ensure the House. So, any question about this is no good, this is no different, it is this, it is that, no, I am making it very clear on what course we are very clearly improved upon the 2013. On the issue of General Council and its role, I just want to be sure that I read that paragraph so that there is no ambiguity on it. 'The General Council..' again from the World Trade Organisation's document, '..is fully acting as the Ministerial Council conducting the functions of Ministerial Conference in the interval is completely mandated.' So, we do not need to worry. The need for me to state it in my August statement was to inform the House that we are not going to the General Council which may not have the powers to ensure the Members of the House that the General Council is not being approached which does not have a mandate and the Ministerial Council is what has to be approached. (Contd by 2U/USY)
SHRIMATI NIRMALA SITHARAMAN (CONTD.): No. We knew, we worked on it, we understood and the WTO has also confirmed it. Therefore, they are fully in a position to take a decision, which is happening between two Ministries. So, I wanted to assure my predecessor that we have certainly not done anything that is very differently placed.
I would not have the courage to speak in as much Hindi as the hon. Member, Shri Derek O'Brien, has spoken. But I would certainly say सम्पूर्ण सॉल्यूशन has not been obtained. बिल्कुल। सम्पूर्ण सॉल्यूशन की ओर ही हम जा रहे हैं। जो बात आज हुई और जो जनरल काउंसिल में अभी एग्री हो गया है, यह उस रास्ते में ही जा रहा है। बात सिर्फ यह है कि सिर्फ 2017 तक सीमित नहीं है, जब भी परमानेंट सॉल्यूशन आएगा, हम भी उसके लिए कोशिश करेंगे, मगर जब आएगा, वह आएगा, तब तक हमें राहत है, क्योंकि peace clause perpetuity के लिए दिया गया है। इस तरह हम सम्पूर्ण सॉल्यूशन की ओर ही जा रहे हैं। ...(व्यवधान)... हमारी कोशिश जारी रहेगी। ...(व्यवधान)... On the TFA, hon. Member, Shri Derek O'Brien, has raised a question as to what is the benefit of the TFA. The TFA would give us reduction of cost of our imports into India, making Indian manufacturing slightly more competitive. It will also lower the cost of our exports in our export markets. More than that, our ports will be lots more transparent. The arbitrage, which happens in the ports because of the delay, will be cut down. More frequency of ships, which come to the ports, will mean that there is more earning for the Customs. And, all this happening in a real time with data available on the net and so on. It is going to lead to transparency. So, trade facilitation has benefits for our country and it makes sense to go through the trade facilitations because it also does not immediately open up without conditions. The hon. Member also referred to much respected Shri Arun Shourie's statement, almost as if to conclude his own presentation. I would like to build on that. Quoting Arun Shourieji, he said, "All is said and done, but at the end more is said than done." I would like to assure the hon. Member, through you, Sir, that all will be said and all will also be done under this Government. So, let us be sure that that will be fully taken up.
Now, I move to hon. Member, Shri Sitaram Yechury. He had raised very important issues. He referred to an Ambassador's statement and said that probably that statement of the Ambassador and the Minister's statement in this august House do not have anything in common. They, probably, have some contradictions. I would like to assure the hon. Member by only reminding him that that statement was made by the Ambassador on 2nd July, when this whole position was taken by this Government. Post that statement, we have negotiated, we have worked, we have come up with solution. And, my statement, which was made in November this year, has definitely moved from the statement made by the Ambassador at the beginning of this whole issue. So, if it did not have a concurrence then, the position has been made clear through my statement. Therefore, the statement made by the Ambassador then, saying that India's position on permanent solution and the 'peace clause' is not dealt with by the WTO, we may not be able to move along with the consensus on the trade facilitation. The position has changed subsequently and we have, at least, a certain sense of getting relief in terms of 'peace clause'. He also raised this issue about Western countries giving a whole lot of subsidies that are never discussed. Yes, I agree.
(Contd. by 2w – PK)
SHRIMATI NIRMALA SITHARAMAN (CONTD.): Since Uruguay Round, we have been raising this and I am sure most often the Indian Ministers of Trade -- several of them who had gone to different places to negotiate, whether in Cancun or, later on, in Bali-- have periodically raised the issue that -- I have also raised it in every one of the meetings that I have had-- the US spends more than 120 billion dollars. This is an approximate figure that I am giving you. And, so does the EU. We have raised this issue as to why those subsidies that are being given to farmers are never on the agenda to be discussed. We should be discussing them, as has been raised by us, and we should continue to raise them in the forthcoming negotiations also.
On the direct benefits' transfer, it is not just me, I think the other Ministries also will have to talk about whether that kind of a transfer is happening, how and when it is happening, etc. So, I won't take the liberty of taking this debate as an opportunity to talk about it. But I am sure my senior colleagues will do that a bit later.
Hon. Member, Shri D. Raja, raised questions based on my paragraphs 3, 8 and 10. For seeking a permanent solution, Mr. Deputy Chairman, Sir, negotiations will have to happen. Now, it will be happening. Sir, there is no commitment to a particular date, and there is no schedule. Now, of course, we have got institutionalized mechanisms to expedite on meetings of the Committee of Agriculture. So, there will be more frequently sittings and talking about what we want. Sir, the expression 'best endeavour' is more used because we want to work through to get a permanent solution but it is not as if it is tied to the deadline. We shall make all the required efforts for it and not sit back just because we have got a Peace Clause in perpetuity. We will not sit back. We shall, definitely, move forward and work towards getting a permanent solution. I assure hon. Member, Mr. Raja, that we shall put the national interest on the top. There shall never be a compromise from our side on the national interest question which you raised, so genuinely, and rightly so. We have not been isolated and it has never been the case that we did not have the support. Mr. Deputy Chairman, Sir, let me assure you that there were several countries who kept in touch with us. But, for whatever reason, they did not open up or speak loudly in public. But we knew many nations felt that on the public stockholding of foodgrains, people were concerned and nations were concerned. They did not speak up but we were in touch with them. Today, I am happy to say that the entire General Council has agreed to understand the issue, appreciated, and you saw the Press- release. Therefore, it is not as if we have been isolated. You also questioned about the Work Programme for negotiation in the Doha Round. It is to be finalized by 31st July, 2015. It is just the Work Programme and negotiations will be going on on that.
One last assurance for hon. Member, Shri D. Raja, is, we may be dealing with FTAs , we are working on FTAs, because we see some merit in some FTAs, with which we want to work and move forward. But we strongly support multilateralism. We feel that FTAs are a way in which we are further building blocks for the multilateral system to survive and continue. So, our commitment to multilateral system continues even if we are going ahead with FTAs, with blocks of some countries. At this stage, I do not need to name each and every country with which we might discuss. But as and when there is an occasion, we will, certainly, talk about it. Shri K.C. Tyagi, as always, very passionately spoke, saying that it should not be a disaster for our kheti and kisan. I assure him and I am sure by now he would have appreciated that it is in the interest of kheti and kisan that we have taken this position from July. With the support of the House and with the support of all the Members, we will manage to succeed in the WTO General Council and we shall move in those lines even further. You can be assured, K.C. Tyagiji.
(Contd. by PB/2X)
SHRIMATI NIRMALA SITHARAMAN (CONTD.): Hon. Member, Sukhendu Sekhar Royji, was expressing his concern. I heard him carefully, and I am grateful to him for having said that the present Agreement is certainly an improvement over the Bali. I am very grateful, Sir, that you mentioned that.
The permanent solution that we have to work is definitely a long road in which a lot of details and issues related to India will have to be taken care of. We shall keep that in mind and move forward in ensuring that no compromise is made in keeping up the interest of India.
Hon. Member from Tamil Nadu, Shri Navaneethakrishnan, quoting Bharathiar said, (Hon. Minister may kindly fill up the Tamil portion).
SHRI SUKHENDU SEKHAR ROY: Please translate it in English.
SHRIMATI NIRMALA SITHARAMAN: Quoting Bharathiar, Shri Navaneethakrishnan had said that ‘if the single individual man doesn’t have right for his food, Bharathiar had said that he will destroy this entire world.’ That’s the seriousness with which Bharathiar, who is a very revolutionary poet, had spoken about the right of an individual man for his food. Of course, he was talking about in the context of some programmes in Tamil Nadu. I assured him by saying ‘understanding that fiery spirit of Subramania Bharathiar, BJP and the Government of India, today has chosen to go to the WTO to fight for the right of individual citizens of India for his food and for the farmers of India; and we did not destroy the world, but, before that, we constructively engaged with the WTO and got the right that we need. I assured the Member from Tamil Nadu that we would be inspired by Bharathiar; we certainly went and ensured that.
(Hon. Minister may kindly fill the Tamil portion)
Satish Misraji had raised issues about Doha Development Agenda. It covers agriculture, industrial goods, services and so on. In every area, there will be special and differential treatment provisions, and this is an integral part of areas of the WTO negotiations. So each area will be negotiated for itself.
And, then, reference was also made to para 10 talking about the delinking of the negotiations for a permanent solution from the rest of the negotiations, and this will ensure that this can continue ever even if other areas are stagnating. There will, of course, be dedicated sessions with regular review. We can keep informing.
I think, I have briefly answered the questions raised by hon. Members, Dr. Sudarsana Natchiappan and Ananda Bhaskarji. I think, majority of the issues raised have been addressed. Shrimati Kanimozhi had raised this issue that the peace clause comes with a certain compromise. No, Madam, there is no compromise as far as I know. Peace clause is certainly something which gives us relief till we find a permanent solution. Till such a time, even if you cross the cap, which is based on 86-87 prices, you are still not going to be able to be drawn to litigation in the WTO courts. Therefore, that peace clause comes without any compromise. And, BJD Member, Shri Bhupinder Singh, very clearly spoke -- and I am going to try again in Hindi. हमें किसी के पास जाकर सिर नहीं झुकाना है। भारतीय जनता पार्टी और गवर्नमेंट ऑफ इंडिया आज किसी के पास नहीं गई है और किसी के सामने सिर नहीं झुकाया है। ...(व्यवधान)... I want to be sure. Government of India has not done anything ...(Interruptions)... ‘Government of India’ is what I have also added there. ...(Interruptions)... No. ...(Interruptions)... Can I answer? ...(Interruptions)...‘Government of India’ is what I added there... ...(Interruptions)...
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: No, Mr. Bhupinder Singh. No, no; sit down.
(Followed by SKC/2Y)
SHRIMATI NIRMALA SITHARAMAN (contd.): The Government of India, as I have said, किसी के सामने जाकर के सिर झुका नहीं है, डिप्टी चेयरमैन सर, आपके द्वारा मेंबर भूपिंदर सिंह को मैं यह एश्योरेंस देना चाह रही हूं।
Sir, I hope, I have answered most of the questions which have been raised seeking clarifications. Thank you very much. ...(Interruptions)...
SHRI ANAND SHARMA: Sir, I wish to seek a clarification.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Okay; I will allow you. ...(Interruptions)... Yes, yes; one clarification. Do you want to put a question, Mr. Sharma?
SHRI ANAND SHARMA: Sir, through you, I thank the hon. Minister, Shrimati Nirmala Sitharaman. I would like to say two quick things. I think there is some mix-up in the papers somewhere. I am just pointing it out. You talked about ‘due restraint’ with reference to Bali-I. I think ‘due restraint’ mechanism was the initial proposition which India had rejected at Bali, and the words ‘due restraint’ are not there in the Bali formula. It is there in the interim -- which has been removed now -- in the General Council. “Till a permanent solution is adopted, and provided that conditions set out below...” and those conditions remain the same, whether in the General Council or the MC-9 decision.
Secondly, Sir, I had specifically referred to one thing. You referred to the WTO documents and I too refer to the same WTO documents. I actually started from the General Council, which you have also read, from 27th November, 2014. I did say that this is the statement by the Chairman of the General Council, Ambassador Jonathan Fried of Canada, and I would read that just to underscore, “With respect to the decisions on post-Bali work circulated in this document, Members are collectively acting on the premise that the entire Bali package can and must be pursued.” I am not going to read the full paragraph because I have read it earlier. Para 2 is very important:
“Therefore, in adopting the three Decisions on Public Stockholding for Food Security Purposes, on the Protocol of Amendment for Trade Facilitation, and on Post-Bali work simultaneously, we are re-affirming” – my English may not be so good – “the entirety of the Bali Ministerial mandates” -- ‘mandates’, that is the word – “including the priorities that the Ministers identified at Bali”. So, what you have said now, shall we take it -- just for my clarity -- that the Chair of the General Council’s statement is wrong?
Lastly, the DG, WTO’s statement’s first decision– again, I am reading from the same document which you read from – clarified the Bali Decision on Public Stockholdings for Food Security Purposes. It makes clear that peace clause which was agreed in Bali...” -- So, it is clarifying; you have got that clarification “...will remain in force until a permanent solution is found.” I am not going to read the rest of it.
So, what I am saying is, first, the ‘due restraint’ was not there in Bali and secondly, what I have read, and is on record, is part of the WTO documents of the 27th of November, 2014. I had earlier also read the 11th December, 2013 Bali declaration. I did ask, when I was seeking clarification, to confirm, accept or reject, whether the Chair’s statement is wrong or whether the DG statement is wrong. Forget about my statement being right or wrong.
Sir, I thought that I must put this record straight, that there was no ‘due restraint’ and these are the three paragraphs. I have much more of the 27th November documents; I have got all the documents here.