Modi expresses support for trade facilitation deal

India’s new prime minister said Monday that he supports a World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement but he is seeking faster action on food security issues.

Narendra Modi, who is having dinner with President Obama on Monday night at the White House, said he wants to be a part of a trade facilitation agreement even though India failed to ratify it at the end of July. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“India is not at all opposed to the trade facilitation agreement of the WTO,” he said at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. 

“We are absolutely clear with our commitment to the WTO agreement,” he said.

Modi said that he and his government recognize that they have to "work with the international community and the rest of the world on this agreement.

But he said that the international community must also recognize that India has a large population of poor people whose requirements of food security and food availability cannot be ignored.

"We have to ensure simultaneously progress to food security front also," Modi said.

As part of the trade deal, ministers agreed to do more research and find a permanent solution by 2017 to India's concerns.

"As a result I have always maintained and India has said that the agreement on the food security and the trade facilitation has to go hand-and-hand and together," he said.

"It cannot be that you do this first and we will see the other later on."

India wants to find a permanent solution to its food grain stockpile issue and has insisted it be a part of the trade facilitation agreement.

The move irked U.S. business groups that argue the deal is the most substantial package reached at the WTO in 20 years and will help streamline customs rules.

Some business leaders have urge Modi to accept the Bali package during his two-day visit to Washington.