India US strike food deal, end WTO blockage

India and the US have reached an agreement on stockpiling of food grains, clearing the way for passage of the biggest trade deal in the World Trade Organisation's 19 year history. The 2 countries agreed that India will extend the world's biggest food subsidy programme until a permanent solution is reached, which will pave the way for ratification of streamlined customs rules known as the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). Under the pact India will lift a veto on a global agreement on streamlining customs rules and in return the US will make an open-ended commitment to protect India's food subsidy programme from legal challenges over exports of surplus grain stocks accumulated in government warehouses. The India – US compromise is now to go before a December meeting of the WTO's General Council, its highest decision-making body, for ratification. India' Commerce Minister Nirmala Seetharaman said India is happy that the two countries have resolved their differences relating to the issue of public stock holding for food security purposes in the WTO, in a manner that addresses India's concerns. This will end the impasse at the WTO and open the way for implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.