CPI-M seeks rejection of WTO draft

July 17th, 2008 - 10:31 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 17 (IANS) The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Thursday demanded the government reject the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) revised drafts on agriculture at the trade body’s mini-ministerial meeting beginning July 21 in Geneva. The Left party, which withdrew its crucial support to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government July 9 over the Indo-US nuclear deal, said India would lose a lot from the fresh proposals.

The WTO meeting coincides with the special session of the Lok Sabha, which begins July 21. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is seeking a vote of confidence in parliament July 22.

“India stands to lose immensely from the proposals on the table. The government should reject the revised drafts in the upcoming WTO mini-ministerial meeting,” the CPI-M said in a statement.

“The Indian government should not yield any further ground in agriculture or non-agricultural market access (NAMA), and the matter must be discussed in the Indian parliament,” the statement said.

The Left outfit, which has maintained a steadfast opposition to the on-going WTO negotiations, claimed that the “NAMA text proposes huge cuts in the bound tariff levels of the developing countries”.

“India’s current level of applied industrial tariff is on average 10 percent, and the bound level average is 34 percent,” the CPI-M said.

The two NAMA texts, which were issued May 19 this year and would form the basis of negotiations, the CPI-M said, reflected the “efforts of the advanced countries led by the US to tilt the outcome of the Doha Round decisively against the interest of the developing countries”.

“The revised text on agriculture requires the developing countries including India to reduce tariffs on agricultural products by 36 percent, which if agreed upon, will harm the interests of the small and marginal farmers,” it added.

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