Sunday, May 23, 2010
The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:
On FTA with European Union
The UPA Government is set to conclude negotiations on the India-EU Free Trade Agreement by October 2010.Despite this having far reaching consequences, thenegotiations are being conducted with extreme secrecy and keeping the Indian Parliament and the State Governments in the dark.
The FTA with EU seeks to lower Indian tariffs to zero or near zero levels for 90% of agricultural products, while leaving untouched the huge subsidies EU agriculture enjoys. This will allow EU to dump subsidized European farm products in the Indian market. We have already seen the impact of such FTAs on Indian agriculture with cheap palm oil imports destroying domestic production.
On Intellectual Property, the EU is asking for TRIPS plus provisions and re-writing of Indian patent and copyright laws. That the Government is even discussing the re-writing of such laws with the EU shows that the scant respect the current UPA Government has for the Parliament. Accepting product patents for drugs and pharmaceuticals under TRIPS has already restricted the access to cheap medicines for the Indian people. A further set of pro-monopoly and pro-corporate measures being demanded by EU – extension of patent life by five years, reduction of farmers rights in favour of agri-business, data exclusivity, etc., are all geared to harm the interests of the people further and their access to medicines, seeds and food.
The EU is also asking India to brand as “counterfeit” all pharmaceutical products that are not in conformity with EU’s patent laws that India exports to other countries through EU territory. This is a crude attempt to justify the illegal seizures that it has carried out recently on which India and Brazil is are planning to invoke WTO dispute settlement provisions. It is surprising that India is even consenting to discuss such issues with EU.
The India EU FTA also proposes massive cuts in import duties on industrial goods, which will greatly impact India’s manufacturing sector that is already facing job losses and shrinking markets. The investment and services provisions are asking for financial liberalisation that the UPA Government wanted to carry out and the Left opposed.
While India largely uses tariff barriers to protect its industry and agriculture, EU uses non-tariff barriers such as engineering and phyto-sanitary standards and also heavy subsidies, particularly in agriculture. In these discussions, the focus is almost entirely on tariffs and creating TRIPS Plus provisions – it is completely skewed for opening the Indian market to EU and not India gaining market access. While India is discussing amending its laws, such a discussion on EU’s laws and non-trade barriers are not even on the agenda.
CPI (M) demands that the UPA Government should not proceed any further on the India-EU FTA unless all current proposals, negotiating drafts are debated and discussed in Parliament and with State Governments.