The Indo-EU summit on 10th February is preparing to finalise the contours of the EU-India Free Trade Agreement. The CPI(M) expresses grave concern on the total lack of transparency regarding the negotiations that have preceded the summit. While various assurances have been issued by the Government, stating that national interests will be safeguarded, there is very little hard information available to back up such claims. Apprehensions grow in the light of the negative experience of the INDIA-ASEAN FTA.
The EU-India FTA encompasses different sectors, including trade in agricultural and manufactured goods, services, intellectual property rights, investment and government procurement. In each of these areas, concessions granted by the Indian Government can have a deep and continuous effect on the livelihood of a very large number of people.
The EU is asking for a majority (over 90%) of tariff lines to be opened up for tariff reduction. Agricultural goods such as cereals, dairy, poultry, fisheries, and agro processed goods, are some areas that the EU is understood to be targeting. In the services sector it is targeting the retail sector, banking, financial services, insurance, postal services, and energy. The EU continues to press for data exclusivity in pharmaceuticals and agro-chemicals, which puts domestic industry at a major disadvantage.
The CPI(M) urges the government not to conclude any binding agreement with the EU until these and several other issues, critical to India’s sovereign interests, are discussed by the government with representatives of all sectors who could be adversely affected. Before proceeding further, the CPI(M) demands that the Government should place on the floor of Parliament a status report regarding the negotiations in this budget session.