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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Farmers’ body demands India’s withdrawal from free trade deal talks

cities Updated: Oct 16, 2019 17:36 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustantimes
         

PRAYAGRAJ The central executive committee (CEC) of the All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha (AIKMS)—a frontal organisation of the CPI-ML (New Democracy)—has expressed concern at the central government’s plan to permit cheap agricultural and industrial imports from ASEAN countries besides China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea by signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Participation (RCEP) free trade deal.

“The government has kept details of the deal hidden from Parliament, state governments and the people, even though agriculture is a state subject. It is a “secret plan” to allow free entry of cheap foreign products into Indian markets and ruin local producers. It will affect Indian agricultural produce, small and medium industries, small traders, services like health, education and transport and also allow financial investments which will favour MNCs. It will also create a legal network to enforce restrictions on Indian producers on production of MNC-patented products, allowing them to sue local producers, as was done by Pepsi to potato farmers in Gujarat,” claimed AIKMS general secretary Ashish Mital.

In a communiqué issued on Wednesday, Mital said, “Earlier, free trade agreements with ASEAN countries, Japan and South Korea have already caused a big loss to India and India has a trade deficit with 11 of these 15 countries”.

The trade deficit is $105 billion and is continuously increasing. Trade deficit with South Korea is $ 12 billion, with Japan $7.9 billion and with China it is $53.4 billion. While the dairy sector, which provides income to crores of families, is likely to suffer the most, farm produce, fertilisers and insecticides, chemicals, electronics, iron and steel, services, machinery will also be affected, he added.

AIKMS demanded that the government should immediately place all details of the 21 out of 25 clauses, already agreed in the RCEP, the 4 clauses which are still under consideration and India’s stand on these. The demand is also to stall all RCEP discussions and withdraw from the November 4 final signing until the details have been disclosed and views have been considered through due process, said Mital.