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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Apr12/08)
3 April 2012
Third World Network

Dear friends and colleagues,

We are pleased to share with you a new report on Right to Food Impact Assessment of the EU-India Trade Agreement produced by the following organisations: Misereor, Heinrich Boell Foundation, Third World Network, Anthra and Glopolis.

Concerns have been expressed for some time by policymakers, analysts, NGOs, and affected groups about the impacts of the ambitious EU-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA), being currently negotiated, on vulnerable groups in India. There are major concerns related to agriculture and access to food as the EU has demanded not only significant tariff reduction in cereals, dairy, poultry, fisheries, processed food along with wines and alcoholic beverages, but services trade liberalisation in sectors such as retail, investment chapters that can affect access to land for farmers, and TRIPs plus intellectual property rights that affect agriculture.

Accordingly, the five organisations conducted and published in December 2011 ‘The Right to Food Impact Assessment (RFIA) of the EU-India Trade Agreement’. The exercise is based on the guiding principles of human rights impact assessments of trade and investment agreements developed by Prof. Olivier De Schutter, the UN Rapporteur on the Right to Food. The RFIA concentrates on dairy and poultry farmers, informal retail workers and on land & investment, and finds evidence of significant threats to both livelihoods and to the direct access to food of millions of agricultural farmers, workers and poor consumers in India.

The assessment finds evidence of severe threat to the right to food of millions of Indians. The report makes the following recommendations on the free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the EU:

• Before signing any FTA, both the EU and India must conduct a comprehensive Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) following the guiding principles of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.

• Before concluding any agreement, a meaningful consultation of all stakeholders, particularly the most vulnerable, must be conducted, and all drafts of the agreement and negotiation documents must be made transparent and open for public debate.

• All tariff lines for poultry and dairy products should be exempted from tariff cuts. Nor should a standstill clause freeze them at the currently applied tariff. Scope must be maintained for policy responses to developments in supply and demand, and national and international prices.

• The FTA must allow for asymmetric treatment of the partners. A comprehensive HRIA should identify all products that can affect the right to food and other human rights, and therefore require further protection. The coverage of the FTA must leave enough space for all these products, be they agricultural or non-agricultural products.

• An effective and easily applicable Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) must be established, to enable India to react to sudden import surges. This SSM must include a volume and a price trigger.

• The FTA should not include provisions that would make it more difficult for India to maintain the existing ban on European foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail. India's policy space for restricting such FDI must be maintained whenever the right to food is found to be violated or threatened. Any possible opening of the sector must be reversible, in case of threats to the right to food.

• Any provision that limits Indian policy spaces for public interest land regulations to secure land tenure and to redistribute land to landless people under the rule of law must be avoided in the FTA. This would require, for example, a removal of investor-State settlement and of the umbrella clause, clear public interest exemption clauses from fair and equitable treatment (FET) and from protection from direct and indirect expropriation. It would also require the inclusion of human rights principles and mechanisms such as Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).

• A human rights clause in the agreement must allow for the revision of any provision that is found to violate or threaten human rights.

• A monitoring mechanism must be established that ensures continuous assessment of the human rights impact of the FTA regarding trade in goods. Any threat to the right to food must lead to a revision of the problematic provisions of the agreement.

The full report is available from this link: http://www.twnside.org.sg/title2/FTAs/General/RFIA.htm

Alternatively, you can download the report directly by going to http://www.twnside.org.sg/title2/FTAs/General/RFIA/RFIA_Final.pdf

With best wishes,
Third Word Network
Websites: www.twnside.org.sg, www.biosafety-info.net

 


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