New Delhi's insistence that it be allowed to stockpile and subsidise grain for its millions of hungry poor has emerged as a major stumbling block at a WTO conference of trade ministers in Bali.
The WTO has warned that failure to reach a compromise on that and other issues could be a death blow to the body's 12-year-old effort to remove trade barriers, which is at a stalemate.
"This is a fundamental issue. We will never compromise," Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters at the conference venue on the Indonesian resort island.
Protectionist disputes, particularly between the industrialised and developing worlds, have made progress elusive.
Washington and some other trading nations Australia among them are said to feel the Indian position violates WTO limits on subsidies and fear stockpiled grain could end up on global markets, skewing prices.
It is apparent to many that the WTO rule's favour rich nations.
"India speaks for the vast majority of people in the developing countries and the poor countries. India is not alone," said the Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma .
Trade ministers have issued stark warnings that a failure to close gaps in Bali would fatally wound the WTO's waning world influence.
Alternative regional pacts between major trading nations, such as the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership pushed by Washington are already pushing for agreements that sideline developing nations.
This would have "tragic" consequences for countless poor in developing countries around the world that are struggling to compete in the global marketplace.