The EU-India FTA discussions caught steam back in 2008. However, because of the sensitivity of the issue, the progress had been shrouded in utmost secrecy with little or no data available. Of late, the discussions progressed more, so much so that the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, even came out with a surprisingly strong statement in July 2013, “We have entered into Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements with the ASEAN countries as well as the Republic of Korea. We are hoping to conclude a similar agreement with the European Union soon”. Most political parties are silent on the issue despite the fact that the implication of such an agreement is enormous. An FTA generally means the lifting of trade barriers and an unhindered flow of goods and services with minimum import duties, intellectual property rights, government procurement, and competition policies between the nations bound by the agreement. So, if the EU-India FTA gets signed, then one could well imagine world class corporations like IKEA and Carrefour competing with domestic brands at prices that are cheaper than those of domestic products! Can our indigenous brands compete with these behemoths? Since any FTA encourages direct imports, it is not a natural builder of employment, rather a reducer of the same, as over time, domestic industries shut down giving way to cheaper imports. Thus, it is ridiculous to tom tom the point that FTAs eliminate poverty and help the destitute with a better living; they clearly don’t do that. Read More....
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