With the US going back on its commitment to finding a permanent solution to the public food stockholding issue, India is facing a “real challenge” at the World Trade Organisation, Union minister Suresh Prabhu said on Thursday.

“For the first time, the country is seeing a real challenge at WTO and the global trading system itself.

Because, first time, countries are putting roadblocks and (it) is going to be real, real issue,” Prabhu said.

In a disappointment to developing countries like India, talks at the WTO’s 11th ministerial conference at Buenos Aires collapsed in December last year, with the US going back on its commitment to find a permanent solution to the public food stockholding issue.

As the US refused to engage, the 164-member World Trade Organisation (WTO) failed to reach a common ground for resolving the food security issue, a demand raised prominently by India.

Addressing industrialists at an event, organised by the Federation of Indian Exports Organisation (FIEO) here, the minister said “We are not enemies (with countries) as far as trade is concerned.”

“We want to make friendship. With China, we had huge trade deficit. I invited the Chinese Commerce Minister (Zhong Shan) to India and signed many agreements and decided not only to reduce trade deficit but (bring in) balance in trade,” Prabhu said.

Referring to agricultural production in the country, he said it stood at 285 million tonnes while horticulture was at 300 million tonnes last year.

“This year, hoping the monsoon is good, production of agriculture and horticulture will be more than 620 million tonnes…,” he said.

Prabhu said to boost agriculture exports, government was planning to roll out an “agriculture export policy.”

On the large number of offices set up by Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) to boost that country’s exports, Prabhu said India would also set up export promotion offices in other countries that would integrate with the global economy.

Prabhu told the industrialists present at the venue that the government was doing more than what they wanted.

“Government can provide umbrella support. But when it comes to business to business, that can be done only by you businessmen,” he said.

Prabhu, who is also the Civil Aviation minister, earlier called on chief minister K Palaniswami and discussed with him about setting up a second big airport for Chennai.

“I also discussed with the chief minister on rolling out a start up policy for Tamil Nadu..,” he added.