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Eyes on India as deadline for key trade pact looms

Published on Jul 23, 2014 3:02 AM

NEW DELHI (AFP) - India under new Prime Minister Narendra Modi could take a stand Wednesday on whether it will support a key global trade pact which faces an end-of-the-month deadline for adoption, a government official said.

If India does not give its backing, it could delay or derail the deal streamlining customs procedures that would mark the first big global trade reform by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in two decades.

India's Bharatiya Janata Party government, elected in May, warned earlier this month it might not ratify the trade facilitation agreement or TFA reached by the 160 WTO members last year in Bali. The agreement is aimed at lowering trade barriers with the intention of making it easier for developing countries to trade with the developed world in global markets.

In a down-to-the-wire finish, New Delhi is seeking assurances on freedom to roll out food security programmes for its vast poor population. "India wants the facilitation agreement but other concerns (on food security) must also be met," the trade ministry official said late Tuesday, asking not to be named.

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