India and the US have resolved their disagreements on food security issues, paving the way for the implementation of a global trade pact.
The deal to simplify trade procedures was done at a World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting summit in Bali in Indonesia last year.
But India has been blocking implementation of that agreement.
It wanted assurances that its food security programme would not be challenged under the WTO’s rules.
India’s concern was that complaints based on rules limiting farm subsidies might undermine its spending on food stockpiles intended to ensure that the poor have enough to eat.
Food security programmes are covered by a so-called “peace clause” in which countries agreed to refrain for making such challenges until 2017. The US has now agreed to extend that commitment, in effect indefinitely. This bilateral agreement between the US and India still has to be endorsed by the full WTO membership, and it’s likely to be discussed in the Organization’s General Council next month.
The breakthrough stems from a bilateral summit in September when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the US.
It clears the way for the WTO to press ahead with the Trade Facilitation Agreement that was done in Bali.
Analysts have estimated that that trade deal could add $1tn (£630bn) to the world economy, by reducing the costs of conducting trade by for example simplifying customs procedures.