CPI(M) asks govt to reject WTO draft agreements
Contending that the revised drafts in farm and industrial goods circulated for negotiation at the upcoming WTO meet would harm India's interest, CPI(M) on Thursday demanded that New Delhi reject these and the matter be debated in Parliament.
CPI(M) said these drafts reflect the efforts of the US and other developed countries to "tilt the outcome" of the Doha Round "decisively against the interest of the developing countries."
"India stands to lose immensely from the proposals on the table.. The Indian government should not yield any further ground in Agriculture or Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA)," the party politburo said in a statement here.
The CPI(M) demands that the Indian government should reject the revised drafts in the upcoming WTO mini-ministerial meeting. "The matter must be discussed in the Indian Parliament," it said.
The WTO Mini-Ministerial meeting will take place in Geneva from July 21 to 25 where Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath is expected to represent India.
Pressing its argument, the CPI(M) said the revised text on agriculture requires the developing countries, including India, to reduce import tariffs on agricultural products by 36 per cent, which might affect the interest of small and marginal farmers.
The politburo pointed out that in India only eight per cent of the 715 tariff lines in agriculture will be allowed to be treated as Special Products.
Of these, only 3.2 per cent of the tariff lines will be subject to no tariff cuts, while 4.8 per cent products will be subject to an average tariff cut of 15 per cent.
"Considering the multiplicity of India's range of agricultural products and their importance for the livelihood of a majority of Indians, the range of protection available under Special Products is too narrow and too weak," the CPI(M) politburo said.
The party held that the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) mentioned in the draft is "too restrictive and ineffectual".
It insisted that "developing countries including India have committed a mistake by agreeing to negotiate on the SSM and that the developed countries have diluted the mechanism to an extent where they are rendered meaningless."
It also observed that the US Congress' enactment of the Farms Act further increases agricultural subsidies in the US, by overriding a veto issued by the US president.
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