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Lame Duck Keeps Swimming
A Breakthrough on Trade with India

Another morning, another breakthrough for our ‘lame duck’ President in foreign policy—this time on trade negotiations with India over its food and farm policies. The BBC explains:

India’s Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took to social media to share the latest developments, where she tweeted that India and the US “had successfully resolved their impasse over food securities in #WTO”. The minister added later: “WTO General Council will receive India’s proposal and US will support us.”

At the centre of the dispute, India had argued that the country itself and other developing economies see food stockpiling as a necessary measure to ensure poor farmers and consumers survive in the business community. But stockpiling and subsidies for the poor are considered to be distorting to trade, under existing WTO rules. Western countries, led by the United States, have previously raised concerns that the stockpile could affect global markets and skew trade.

On the face of it this was a concession by the United States, although it is perhaps more fairly read as a sidelining of a contentious issue so that it not get in the way of a bigger good. According to reports, the deal appears to have amounted to moving forward on the broader WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement “until a permanent solution regarding [the food] issue has been agreed and adopted”.

And the bigger good is big indeed. The BBC cites analysts claiming that the agreement could add $1 trillion to the world economy. An important global trade deal is within reach for President Obama.

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