The LDF Government in Kerala on Saturday came out strongly against the Centre's move to implement the Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN countries, holding that it would deal a severe blow to the state, where cash crops are vital sources of income to millions of people.
A cabinet meeting held at Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan's residence in Thiruvananthapuram wanted the Manmohan Singh Government to reconsider the decision to operationalise the pact by January 2010, envisaging steadily slashing import tariff on a variety of farm commodities and phasing them out completely within 10 years.
"The government's firm view is that implementation of the ASEAN agreement would trigger a grim crisis in the farm sector in the country in general and that of Kerala in particular," an official spokesperson said.
The pact would lead to severe price crash of a host of farm commodities like pepper, tea, coffee, spices and rubber and also of marine products, he said.
It would also pave for unrestricted import of edible oil, which would cause a sharp fall in price of coconut, a source of income for lakhs of people in the state.
It was also a matter of serious concern for the state that the agreement did not contain any negative list of items, whose import would be totally banned, official sources said.
The cabinet resolved to write to Prime Minister, conveying its apprehension on the issue.