(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
May 30, 2010
Without Discussions, Do Not Proceed Further
On FTA with European Union
The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party
THE UPA government is set to conclude negotiations on the India-EU Free Trade Agreement by October 2010. Despite this having far reaching consequences, the negotiations are being conducted with extreme secrecy and keeping the Indian parliament and the state governments in the dark.
The FTA with the European Union seeks to lower Indian tariffs to zero or near zero levels for 90 per cent of agricultural products, while leaving untouched the huge subsidies the EU agriculture enjoys. This will allow the EU to dump subsidised 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 rewriting 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.
The 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.