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Govt has no mandate to negotiate Indo-EU FTA: CPI(M)

Economic Times, India

Govt has no mandate to negotiate Indo-EU FTA: CPI(M)

11 December 2010

NEW DELHI: The CPI(M) today said the government has "no mandate" to negotiate the Indo-European Union Free Trade Agreement (FTA) without consulting Parliament and political parties as it would adversely affect the economy and large sections of the people.

Maintaining that negotiations on FTA "till date have been conducted under a veil of secrecy", it claimed that the Government has in the past signed agreements that "affect large sections of the people adversely without making any efforts to consult parliament, other political parties or state governments".

In case of the Indo-EU FTA, "it is understood that the EU is demanding measures that go beyond TRIPS, and would affect the viability of low priced generic medicines in the country", the CPI(M) politburo said in a statement.

The party said EU was also seeking "accelerated access to Indian markets, particularly diary and agri-business, that could jeopardise livelihood among farmers, fisherfolk and small businesses".

The investment and financial services obligations being demanded by EU would have "detrimental effects on domestic industry, result in giant retail chains pushing out small vendors and trades people, compromise the Government’s ability to direct credit into required areas and destabilise India’s financial sector, at a time when the world is going through its worst financial crisis in recent memory".

The CPI(M) said the EU has made strong demands for opening up the system of Government procurement, "which, if accepted, would further jeopardise the country’s faltering Public Distribution System ".

"The CPI(M) reiterates firmly that the Government does not have the mandate to negotiate the Indo-EU FTA without first having consulted diverse sections within India and discussed in the parliament," the major Left party said.

The EU summit in Brussels is being attended by a high- level Indian delegation led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.