Press Release: WTO Nairobi Package

Preess Release 21 December 2015, NEW DELHI

WTO NAIROBI PACKAGE:

India packed off empty handed and humiliated

Civil society groups in India have come out strongly against the outcome of the WTO Nairobi Ministerial citing concerns on both the negotiating process and substantive issues in the various texts adopted. The Ministerial was extended by an extra day due to disagreements from various developing countries, including India, and was finally concluded in the late hours of 19 December with the adoption of the Nairobi package which includes a Ministerial Declaration and six related decisions on agriculture, cotton and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

‘This is a dismal failure by the Indian delegation. From a reading of the declaration it is clear that the ‘development mandate’ of the Doha Round has been thrown out since there is no unanimity on the existing Doha structures and architecture. Further, the declaration recognises that some members wish to identify and discuss other issues for negotiations. This opens the door for contentious new issues such as Investment, Government Procurement and Global Value Chains to be brought into the WTO’ said Former Finance Secretary and previous GATT ambassador S P Shukla.

Shukla further argued that according to the WTO agreement, if there was no consensus; decisions need to be arrived at through specific majorities. Given the lack of agreement between the developed and developing countries at Nairobi, India should have exercised this legal right when the talks got extended by a day. The Commerce Minister should explain to the Parliament the reasons why India chose to capitulate on 19 December’, said Shukla.

WTO expert and Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Biswajit Dhar argues that not only has India got nothing out of Nairobi but has conceded ground on specific areas. ‘The decisions on completely eliminating export subsidies by 2023 will further aggravate the crisis in our sugar sector. The opening in the text for new issues is also an indication that now the USA and EU will aggressively push for elements from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) into the WTO agenda. India will once again be on the backfoot, said Dhar.

The Convener of the National Working Group on Patent Laws and WTO, Dr. Dinesh Abrol said that the Parliament should urgently debate the commissions and omissions of the Modi Government at Nairobi. ‘We demand that the Government be immediately asked to prepare a White Paper on the WTO negotiations and on various free trade agreements (FTAs) and autonomous liberalisation to stop further damage to the erosion of development policy space which is so crucial to the realisation of development concerns which include the basic rights to food, employment, education, public health and safe environment.

Senior Researcher at the Third World Network, Ranja Sengupta said that ‘On the two key demands placed by India; permanent solution for public food stockholding and the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM), we got nothing more than what was present before Nairobi. The introduction of new issues such as Investment and Government Procurement will have adverse implications for our agriculture sector as well’.

If Bali 2013 was a mistake, Nairobi 2015 was a disaster. In 2014, India agreed to the Trade Facilitation (TF) agreement unilaterally without getting anything in return. The 20th anniversary of the WTO will be remembered as the graveyard for development concerns and multilateralism, said Afsar Jafri from Focus on the Global South.

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Global crude oil prices drop to a four-year low

Global crude oil prices dropped to $84 per barrel on Wednesday, raising hopes that retail fuel prices will be slashed further. India currently imports around 190 million tonnes of crude oil per year or two-thirds of the nation’s total energy demand, at a cost of $145 billion. This accounts for more than a third of the nation’s import bill. Besides causing a reduction in fiscal deficit (the amount of money the government borrows to fund its expenses), the fall in crude oil prices will also ease prices of domestic food and fuel. Oil companies on Tuesday slashed petrol prices by Re 1 per litre, with diesel due to fall by Rs 2.50 in the next few days. http://scroll.in/article/683915/Global-crude-oil-prices-drop-to-a-four-year-low

Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce Invites Suggestions of Public on Credit and Market Access Facilities for Foreign Trade

 http://pib.gov.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=0

 
Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce Invites Suggestions of Public on Credit and Market Access Facilities for Foreign Trade

The Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce, headed by ShriShanta Kumar, M.P., Rajya Sabha has taken up the subject of “Credit and Market Access Facilities for Foreign Trade” for examination and report.

2. The Committee has decided to invite views/suggestions/comments from individuals/ experts/ institutions/ organizations/ stake-holders interested in the subject matter. The views/ suggestions/ comments may, inter alia, focus on issues like assistance/ support/ facilities available to the Indian exporters/ importers, policy interventions required for strengthening the inherent capacity of MSME sector and facilitating bank and market access to the sector for foreign trade; structural reforms required in the foreign trade mechanism to make it risk-free and enable it to become priority sector for loan and finances; ways and means to infuse competitiveness to our production process and promote export of finished goods rater than raw material; infrastructural bottlenecks hampering efficient foreign trade; banking reforms desirable to facilitate low interest loans for the purpose of foreign trade, regulatory framework required to oversee the growth of foreign trade and check unfair practices; streamlining of various scheme/ incentives being offered by the Government, coordination between customs and DGFT authorities on foreign trade related policies/ schemes, co-opting State Governments to promote foreign trade; efficacy of Export Promotion Councils (EPCs), Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) to promote foreign trade, etc. The aforementioned issues are only indicative and not exhaustive.

3. Those desirous of submitting their views and suggestions to the Committee may send their written memoranda (either in English or Hindi) on the above subject to Shri J. Sundriyal, Director, Rajya Sabha Secretariat, Room no. 201, Second Floor, Parliament House Annexe, New Delhi-110006 (Tel.: 23034541) or e-mail atsundrial@sansad.nic.in, rsc-comm@sansad.nic.in with thirty days from the date of publication of this PressCommunique. Those willing to give oral evidence before the Committee, besides sending Memoranda,are requested to indicate so. However, the decision of the Committee, in the regard, shall be final.

4. The memoranda submitted to the Committee would form a part of the records of the Committee and will be treated as confidential. These are not to be disclosed to anyone, till the report of the Committee is presented to Parliament, violation of which would constitute a breach of privilege of the Committee.

Rajya Sabha Secretariat Parliament of India, New Delhi, 4.11.2013

YSK/ UMA

(Release ID :100404)

 

Civil society groups to reject US pressure on Economic Policies

12 July 2013
New Delhi
PRESS STATEMENT

Civil society groups call upon the Indian Government

to reject US pressure on Economic Policies
In an open letter (attached) to the Prime Minister of India, against the backdrop of the US-India Business Council (USIBC) Leadership Summit held in Washington on July 11, 2013, the Forum Against Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) in India, a coalition of over 75 organisations, farmers groups, trade unions and development activists, has called upon the Prime Minister, Shri Manmohan Singh, to review its forthcoming economic engagements with the USA, and, to reject pressure from the US government and business lobby groups on India’s economic policies.

Ahead of John Kerry, US Secretary of State’s visit to India and the US – India Strategic dialogue, in June 2013 the US law makers and business groups had urged the US government to apply trade tools and diplomatic pressure on the Indian Government for strict adherence to ‘market based path to development’. Letters from the US senators also issued veiled threats that India should toe the line, in order to continue to be the beneficiary of US programme of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), which requires reauthorisation soon.

Some of India’s key policy decisions to fulfill its socio-economic developmental priorities are being opposed by US business groups; such as compulsory licensing for life saving drugs, preferential market access for domestically produced electronics goods and solar energy equipments, licenses for foreign banks. This pressure from US comes notwithstanding the fact that India is staring at economic increasing trade deficit and current account deficit, which requires such kind of policy response. One could fairly assume that, the US business wants to gain at the India’s moment of crisis.

Patents and Life Saving Medicines: US business’ attempts to force India to change its policies on intellectual property rights (IPR), namely compulsory licensing and to stop the abuse of patent system through ‘evergreening’, are direct threat to the availability of affordable high-quality medicines for poor patients in India and other developing and least developed countries.

Preferential Market Access (PMA) Initiative: India’s PMA policy initiative of local content requirements in procurement of electronics goods by the government and private entities aims to create domestic manufacturing base and create product design and development capability, to manage trade deficit, sustainable economic growth and also strengthen strategic national security. However, coming under the US pressure, the government has announced the review of its PMA policy.

India decided not to participate in the ongoing negotiations in the expansion of WTO plurilateral Information Technology Agreement (ITA), known as ITA – II, as it suffered huge imports of electronics and telecom products by being signatory to ITA – I. If India suspends its PMA initiative in the ICT sector, besides losing the opportunity to create domestic capability, India’s stand on ITA-II also rendered meaningless. Further, the revelations of snooping by the US government, made by Edward Snowden, former US National Investigating Agency (NIA) employee confirm India’s strategic and security concerns. Such corporate demands and mounting pressure of the US administration forcing India to join WTO plurilateral agreements ITA and International Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) go against India’s developmental priorities and its potential to generate employment and create sustainable livelihoods.

India’s National Solar Mission Plan: The US government’s demands to allow US business to compete for procurements under India’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) projects will jeoparadise the policy support to India’s nascent solar industry and stated objective to boost transformation of India’s rural economy. By conceding to international pressure India will lose a significant opportunity to create manufacturing employment and build domestic capacity in producing green energy.

Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Biosafety: The USIBC has a Executive Committee on Food & Agriculture, with the US TNCs Cargill as its Chair and Monsanto as its Vice Chair which undertakes lobbying in both India and USA for legislation on seed and biotechnology, that favour the use and marketing of genetically modified organisms in agriculture. Given that a national Food Security Ordinance has also been promulgated, there should be every effort by the GoI to refrain from taking steps that might limit government from delivering safe, nutritious and healthy food to the over billion people it is aimed at. The people’s Forum on FTAs is also critical of USIBC’s key advocacy priorities to promote the opening of India’s multi-brand retail sector. It is important to note that as per their latest notifications to the WTO in 2010, the US provided about $4 billion of support to their agricultural producers i.e. considered under WTO classification as trade-distorting. And any appeal from the Indian side to USA to put an end to such agricultural subsidies has not been heeded.

The Forum Demands that:

1) The Government of India should withdraw the announcement to review PMA policy, resist undue pressure from US administration that compromises India’s policy space and give primacy to India’s developmental priorities;

2) The Government of India should not jeopardise its capacity to generate employment through domestic manufacturing, provide affordable medicines to millions and revive the rural economy.

3) The US policy makers and the government should not side with US business interests while ignoring interests of the Indian people, 847 million of whom live under US$ 2 per day.

For more details contact: G.Manicandan, Coordinator, Forum Against FTAs,

Email: forumagainstftas@gmail.com , Phone: 9868319261

 

India tells France no further scope to meet free trade deal demands – Livemint

Commerce minister Anand Sharma seeks political support from France to complete negotiations with EU

via India tells France no further scope to meet free trade deal demands – Livemint.