Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10739/689
Title: The WTO’S special safeguards mechanism: An Indian perspective on the present paradox
Authors: Khanderia, Saloni
JGLS
Keywords: World Trade Organization
India, food security
special safeguard mechanism, WTO
Agreement on Agriculture, WTO
Issue Date: 1-Sep-2017
Publisher: University of Bologna
Citation: University of Bologna Law Review
Abstract: While liberalisation of trade and the progressive reduction of tariffs have led to significant welfare gains, these may be unfeasible for developing countries where a surge in imports could potentially be detrimental to realising the objective of food security through food self-sufficiency. Developing country Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have thus been proposing a ‘special safeguard mechanism’ (SSM). This would permit them to impose measures in circumstances wherein there has been a surge or a decline in prices of agricultural imports, so as to negatively affect the livelihood and food security interests of these nations. These deliberations have gained momentum against the backdrop of the WTO's Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), which came into force in the Uruguay Round negotiations. Consequently, the WTO's Sixth Ministerial Conference held in Hong Kong in 2005, endowed developing country Members with the right to recourse to SSM's on account of import surges that could potentially expose its agricultural sector to increased shocks. Nonetheless, the lack of consensus as regards the precise modalities, particularly between the U.S. and India, resulted in a deadlock. Consequently, during the recent Nairobi Ministerial Conference in 2016, India vehemently opposed to proceeding with any further negotiations, and in particular, as regards the Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA). India insisted that its internal mechanisms to support food security and public stockholding - being an issue of policy space should be left unhampered despite the present stipulations of the AoA, which pegs the same at ten percent of the value of production. Accordingly, the mandate of SSMs assumed more significance in the Nairobi Ministerial Conference insofar as modalities on these would plausibly permit developing countries to increase tariffs on account of import surges on agricultural products – and thus safeguard their food security and livelihood concerns. SSMs negotiations have been particularly important for India in its endeavour to insulate its agricultural sector from import deluges that debilitate its livelihood and food security. Its success, however, depends on the ability of the WTO Members to finally negotiate the modalities of this right, in the absence of which, it continues to remain a ‘lip service'. This paper, therefore, attempts to explore India's motivation in digging its heels on the SSM issue, appreciating that the country's stand at the WTO appears to be of vital importance to developing country Members with similar anxieties as regards the protection of livelihood and food security. It delineates parameters in these respects which could be workable keeping in mind the agricultural scenario in India.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10739/689
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