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Don’t go ahead with RCEP deal: Farmers’ Unions warn Centre

It will devastate 15 crore Indian livestock farmers who depend on dairy for their livelihood

Nirmesh Singh 
New Delhi. 01 Aug 2019

Accusing centre of giving into pressure from service and corporate sector including Adanis and Ambanis for Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and underlining the danger looming on India’s dairy farmers as a consequence, Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements (ICCFM) submitted a memorandum to Union Minister of State of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Sanjeev Kumar Balyan on Wednesday, warning Centre to not to go ahead with RCEP that it is negotiating with 15 other countries. Minister will send the memorandum further to Commerce Ministry.

“Dr Balyan has assured us that he would send the recommendations to the Union Commerce Minister and also request him to reconsider the decision”, Dharmendra Malik, senior leader and media head of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) told the Agri Nation.

Earlier in the day at the press conference, farmer leaders asked the government not to bow down to pressure from 16 countries including China, New Zealand, Australia and ASEAN who are eager to close the deal that only stands to benefit large agribusinesses in these countries.

“If the dairy market is opened up it will devastate at least 15 crore Indian livestock farmers who depend on dairy for their livelihood”, said Yudhvir Singh, National Secretary of BKU and ICCFM.

Accusing Adanis and Ambanis and service sector of pressuring the government for RCEP for their own interests, he said, “Indian milk producer must be protected as most of these are landless farmers with just one or two cattle and depend on dairy for their livelihood. RCEP is not in the interest of the small and marginal farmer.”

“India will also lose revenues of upto Rs 60,000 crores if the RCEP is fully implemented”, he added.

He also warned Centre of nationwide farmer protests if agriculture was not taken out of RCEP.

ICCFM memorandum stated, “RCEP is more threatening than other trade regimes like the World Trade Organization (WTO). It would force India to remove tariffs on 92 percent of traded commodities. India has already lost 26,000 crores of revenue in 2018-19 by allowing cheap imports from ASEAN bloc with which India has an existing trade deal.  

“India should have learnt a lesson from the disastrous experience of the such agreements. RCEP would also dilute India’s protections of farmers’ seed rights and make them vulnerable to corporate plant breeders. ”, said K. Sellamutthu, President of the Tamila Vyavasaigal Sangam.