New Delhi: The European Union (EU) and dozens of countries around the globe warned that World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks risked falling apart as India seeks to renegotiate part of a breakthrough agreement reached last year.
WTO members are striving to pass part of a package of deals reached last December in Bali by a July 31 deadline. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who took power in May, will block the process until he receives further assurances that he can expand food subsidies without penalty, according to two Indian officials with direct knowledge of the talks who asked not to be identified because they aren't authorised to speak to the media.
"A great opportunity to mobilise trade as an instrument for growth and development would be lost" if the July 31 deadline is missed, the 28-member EU said in a statement on Thursday.
"The credibility of the WTO, which has during the financial crisis proven its value as a firewall against protectionism, would be further damaged."
Failure to make progress this week risks undermining the first major accord in the WTO's 19-year history.
While the global trade body says the deal will stimulate the world economy by more than $1 trillion through cutting regulatory hurdles, opponents say it could hurt the ability of poorer countries like India to provide cheap food for their citizens.
"A decision to step away would be in no one's interest," 25 WTO members, including Australia, Pakistan, Peru and Vietnam, said in a statement on Thursday.