Forum Against FTAs, Press Release, December 8, 2010
New Delhi: In the wake of the 11th EU-India Summit, beginning on December 10, 2010 in Brussels, Belgium a group in India comprising civil society organisations, trade unions and people’s movements under the banner of “Forum Against FTAs” submitted a letter to the Prime Minister of India calling greater transparency in EU-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations. This EU-India FTA is high up on the agenda of the Summit. As per press reports, the next rounds of negotiations will be moving towards the finalisation of the text by early 2011. This FTA is expected to cover a larger number of areas and provisions apart from commodity trade; for example stricter IPR rules, deep service and investment liberalisation with significant protection for foreign investors in India.
The letter condemns the Union Government for being inactive towards the concerns raised by different sectors on various occasions in the last three years of negotiations, including issues raised by small farmers, fishworkers, HIV/AIDS patients, retailers, indigenous people from the North East, as well as civil society groups in India and in Europe on EU-India FTA.
According to the letter, the denial of access to these texts is undermining the legitimate and democratic rights of affected stakeholders, public interest groups and State Governments for information, involvement and participation in such processes. If this FTA and other FTAs signed or negotiated by the government indeed protect the rights and welfare of the Indian citizens, then why it is being done in secrecy? For a government which highlights ‘inclusive development’ as one its key mandates, this non-inclusive process of the making of a key economic policy with strong development implications appears to be counter-productive. Trade policy is not just for serving commercial interests but must ensure equitable growth and development, and this should reflect in the government’s principal goals in conducting such agreements.
For Further Information please contact:
Ranja Sengupta (+91 9811368168)
Pallavi Mansingh (+91 9810393391)
Note: Forum Against FTAs is a loose network of trade unions, people’s movements, civil society organizations and academia working on issues related to agriculture, food security, livelihoods, fisheries, health, labour, etc. The Forum is calling for greater transparency in FTA negotiations and for genuine public participation and consultation.
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