India to announce WTO breakthrough, according to sources

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - A breakthrough is expected in talks between India and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to end a deadlock on implementing a deal struck last year to facilitate global trade, two sources close to the talks said on Thursday.

India's trade minister Nirmala Sitharaman was due to give a statement shortly, a government official in New Delhi said.

"The minister is going to announce a breakthrough at the WTO," said one of the sources, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the record to the press.

At the end of July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pulled the plug on implementing a Trade Facilitation Agreement struck in Bali last year, linking it to the emotive issue of rural poverty in his country of 1.25 billion people.

India had wanted indefinitely to extend a "peace clause" to protect a subsidised food distribution scheme until the WTO can strike a definitive deal on stockpiling. In Bali, the WTO agreed that the clause would expire in four years.

The trade row had isolated Asia's third-largest economy and plunged the WTO into its worst crisis in two decades, as countries led by the United States considered abandoning the principle of consensus under which the 160-nation group works.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.