NGOS, academics, patient groups, humanitarian organisations, trade unions, farmers groups and mass movements, representing hundreds of organisations and networks across the country, asked Mr. Anand Sharma, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, to explain to the nation which sectors and who exactly are benefiting from the FTA that is currently being negotiated with the European Union.
The ambitious Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement, or FTA in common parlance, is being negotiated since 2007. Tomorrow, 15th May, will see a crucial round of negotiations where both sides will try to sort out final differences so that the agreement can be sealed at a ministerial in June.
On the eve of the negotiations, several concerned groups came together to send a letter (Find attached) to the Commerce and Industry Minister. They pointed out that agriculture and most of industrial segments will be adversely affected by this FTA and gains in services are hardly likely to materialise under the current circumstances. The EU is also asking India to lock in FDI liberalisation in critical service sectors that are currently still being debated within India. On the other hand, intellectual property rights and investment provisions demanded by the EU will threaten the ability of the government to put in place development and public interest friendly policies.
The group highlighted that the Parliamentary Committees on Commerce and on Agriculture have issued words of caution to the government. In particular the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce is hearing from the public on the matter of FTAs and that popular collective voices would rather there be a ’stay’ on negotiations till the report of the Committee is out.
The signatories called upon the Minister to “inform the Indian people, with substantiating evidence, exactly in which sectors and by how much is India gaining” and also to “inform as to who is benefiting from this FTA and whether broad based interests of a large number of people, such as in agriculture and industry, are being safeguarded”.
The group also asked the Minister to make negotiating texts and impact assessments public, and pay heed to the concerns expressed by political parties and parliamentary standing committees. The group also asked the government to get endorsing mandate from state governments especially on areas that are on the state or concurrent lists.
The group appeals to the media to help unearth the inside story and texts, that will help shape public opinion and popular understanding of this FTA.
For further Information please contact:
Coordinator, Forum Against FTAs
Ph: +91 9868319261