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CPI(M) concerned over ASEAN FTA

The Hindu, India

CPI(M) concerned over ASEAN FTA

It is “intrigued” by India’s initiative to break the deadlock in WTO talks

by Special Correspondent

7 September 2009

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Sunday expressed concern at the free trade agreement with the ASEAN countries and termed as “intriguing” the move by India to break the so-called deadlock in the World Trade Organisation’s talks.

In a statement at the end of the two-day Polit Bureau meeting here, the party said that despite the apprehensions raised about its adverse affects by States such as Kerala that would be affected by the agreement, they were not consulted.

“The free trade agreement is going to lead to abolition of tariffs or lowering of duties on a range of agricultural commodities and industrial goods. Kerala is going to be badly hit as commodities such as pepper, tea, cardamom and palm oil are all items which will see liberalised imports,” the statement said.

Referring to the informal ministerial meeting on the Doha round of negotiations held here last week, the CPI (M) said the text being negotiated did not provide effective protection to the livelihood of millions of small and marginal farmers against the surge of cheap imports from the developed countries which continue to heavily subsidise them. In the case of non-agricultural market access (NAMA) the tilt against developing countries was more blatant.

The Centre should not take any steps that compromise the interest of farmers and agriculture and of workers and the domestic industry.

It said the End Use Monitoring Agreement with the United States allowing intrusive inspections were an affront to India’s sovereignty.

“India has also committed to adopt a civilian nuclear liability law under U.S. pressure. Under this proposal, the level of compensation will be capped at $450 million in the event of an accident in a nuclear facility. Moreover, the responsibility for compensation will not lie with the U.S. supplier of the reactor but on the Indian operator, in this case the Nuclear Power Corporation of India.” It appealed to all democratic forces to oppose such a liability law being passed by Parliament.
“Revoke sentence”

The meeting strongly condemned the sentencing of J.S. Tissanayagam, a journalist in Sri Lanka, to 20 years rigorous imprisonment.

While stating that use of the draconian anti-terror law against a journalist who expressed dissenting views was disturbing, it urged the Sri Lankan government to take steps to rescind the sentence and stop repressing the media.