New Delhi: Terming it a possible threat for farmers, Rajya Sabha and CPM member Brinda Karat sharply criticized the India-Asean free trade agreement that proposes to drastically reduce or remove import duties on over 4,000 items of mutual trade in the Upper House on Thursday. Similar concerns were also expressed by the Bharatiya Janata Party and Samajwadi Party.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Karat said, “Signing of this agreement with South-East Asian countries is going to be devastating for lakhs of farmers.” She said the agreement for duty reduction would cover items like pepper, coffee, tea, rubber, palm oil and cashew among others.
External affairs minister S.M. Krishna had said in Phuket (Thailand) on Wednesday that negotiations for India’s Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with Associations of South-East Asian nations have been completed.
He indicated CECA may be signed in October this year at the India-Aseansummit in Thailand.
Karat, who received overwhelming support from Samajwadi Party and BJP members, demanded the government should take Parliament into confidence before signing this agreement.
She said India was going to throw open its markets when most countries are taking measures to protect their own economy amid global recession.
Karat said India was also surrendering before developed countries in WTO negotiations by rushing towards Doha Round completion.