Press Release Distributed at Dharna and Demonstration on July 12, 2008 against Indian Government’s surrender at WTO compromising interests of Indian Farmers, Industries and Fishermen
Today when the central government has been reduced to be a minority government, thanks to the withdrawal of support though delayed, from the left parties, it is very unfortunate that government is committing itself on issues having long term impact on the country at large and agriculture in particular.
Swadeshi Jagaran Manch strongly condemns the government for surrendering the national interests by giving its nod to the latest draft for negotiations at Mini Ministerial Conference of WTO at Geneva. In a way this conference seeks to conclude the most infamous so called Doha development round of negotiations. On the one hand the Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath is claiming that India will not compromise on agriculture, but on the other latest indications are very clear that India has already accepted the draft that is being prepared at Geneva. The proposed draft is expected to offer unreasonable gains to US and European Union at the cost of the developing countries. Not only that concessions are being given to the developed countries by way of market access, unreasonable commitment are being made on non agricultural market access (NAMA) as well. Commitments being made in these negotiations at Geneva are not only going to hurt the interests of Indian farmers and manufacturers but also millions of our fishermen as well.
It is known to all that developed countries are not ready to carry on any reduction in their subsidies for agriculture, which is causing havoc for developing like India. The current draft allows developed countries to continue with their high levels of subsidies that will enable them to keep their products competitive in the developing countries’ markets. The degree of tariff cuts that developed countries need to undergo also has been made flexible. On the other hand, developing countries will be required to reduce their tariffs and also not be able to employ mechanisms under SPs and SSMs to effectively protect their agriculture when faced with cheap and subsidized imports from developed countries.
Though provisions are provided for restricting the cheap imports from the developed countries but conditions to impose these restrictions are too stringent. Under these conditions countries like India will have to prove that either the prices have fallen by 30 percent or supplies have increased by more than 35 percent due to these imports. First of all these conditions are difficult to be fulfilled and even if these are fulfilled, by the time special measures are implemented, much of the loss would already have taken place. So these remedial measures are farce. It is beyond imagination that the government is going ahead with giving market access to the developed countries despite the fact that these countries have not reduced their agricultural subsidies by ‘even one dollar, recent US Farm Bill seeks to enhance the agricultural subsidies to 300 billion dollars.
This is the right opportunity for the Indian government to stall the proceedings at WTO and save the national interests. Swadeshi Jagaran Manch firmly believes that the present miseries of the farmers are due to the agreements made earlier at WTO. To stop further deterioration of agriculture, we should try to protect the interest of farmers by disallowing the market access to developed countries and exert pressure on these countries to reduce their agricultural subsidies. Swadeshi Jagaran Manch is of the considered opinion that present Union Government has lost its moral right to continue and make any agreement at any international forum, compromising national interest.
Swadeshi Jagaran Manch Demands :
- Agricultural is not only a source of livelihood for millions of Indian farmers but also a way of life, and therefore it cannot be allowed to be left at whims of the market and subject to international trade agreements. Therefore agriculture should be kept out of WTO negotiations.
- Under the circumstances when developed world has failed to keep their commitments to reduce agricultural subsidies, government of India should not allow negotiations to go on at WTO.
- Given the fact that the government no longer enjoys majority support in the parliament, it should refrain from the making any new and important commitment at international forums, especially when it amounts to compromising the interests of farmers, industries, fishermen and country at large.