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Farmers’ Protest: Why are farmers demanding India’s withdrawal from WTO?

DNA | 13 February 2024

Farmers’ Protest: Why are farmers demanding India’s withdrawal from WTO?

Farmers started protesting on Tuesday with a new set of demands including a legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops and India’s withdrawal from the World Trade Organization (WTO). The protesting farmers also want India to scrap all Free Trade Agreements (FTA). But why are farmers demanding withdrawal from WTO?

The international trade body deals with the rules of trade between nations. According to WTO rules, member countries are required to limit the amount of domestic support they provide to their agricultural producers. This is because excessive subsidies can distort international trade. They also include individual countries’ commitments to lower trade barriers and open services markets. Many countries express concern about India’s subsidy to its farmers, saying it will affect the global agricultural business.

India has been a member of WTO since January 1995. Indian farmers want legal guarantee regarding MSP, but WTO rules are exactly the opposite. India has also promised that it will not give any guarantee on fixing its MSP. Due to this, farmers want India to come out of WTO to accept their demands related to MSP. Besides, it should also cancel all FTAs so that it does not have to bow to the conditions of any other country or organization.

The WTO has 164 members representing 98 per cent of world trade. Moreover, a free trade agreement (FTA) also involves reducing or eliminating tariffs on items traded between the partner countries. Meanwhile, developing nations have also been demanding a special safeguard mechanism that would permit them to impose import restrictions if there is a surge in import of an agricultural item or a decline in its price. They say that this could result in loss of livelihood of farmers in the country and a threat to food security.

 source: DNA