Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Sept09/06)
Geneva, 2 Sep (Kanaga Raja) -- Some 250 groups comprising trade unions, agriculture organizations as well as a wide range of public interest groups across India have voiced criticism over a Mini-Ministerial meeting of some 35 trade ministers representing key WTO Members and coalitions that will take place in New Delhi on 3-4 September.
Their concerns came in a letter sent by the groups to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
farmers are expected to gather at Jantar Mantar (an 18th century astronomical
observatory and national monument in
Unions such as the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) and Hind Mazdoor
Sabha (HMS) are also expected to mobilise along with the Left Parties
who have also announced a march from Mandi House to
WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy is expected to attend the Mini-Ministerial meeting.
their letter, the groups believed that the Government of India's attempt
to "re-energize" the stalled WTO talks is "flawed and
misguided". The proposed WTO Doha deal would only benefit the corporate
interests of developed countries such as the
Government's sudden proactive stance on the
to the groups,
fact, said the group's letter, the US Farm Act 2008 actually increases
"The WTO proposals severely dilute provisions to protect our agriculture," said the groups, adding that they drastically limit the number of crops that can be exempt from tariff reductions and propose a highly ineffective mechanism to prevent import surges.
Other onerous demands such as an "anti-concentration clause" and "sectorals" will have enormous impacts on "our organised and unorganised sectors and the future of our manufacturing and fisheries sectors". In contrast, rich countries will commit to much lower reductions in their duties and do nothing to their non-tariff barriers.
"Our own economy has endured massive job-losses in export-led sectors due to the financial crisis and our trade deficit continues to rise."
than "re-energizing" talks on a flawed framework, the groups
stressed that the government must go back and rewrite and re-strengthen
its position on the protection of millions of workers and farmers by
The groups urged that it is imperative that any WTO position that the UPA Government pursues is set out in a white paper and discussed in the Parliament. They said that the Government should not be allowed to make any commitments without consulting the Parliament and state legislatures. +