Do you know that there is a country up for sale? Do you know that its finance, agriculture and retail sectors are being put ‘on the market’? Perhaps you are already aware of this due to various media reports. But then again, maybe you are not because it’s all being carried out behind closed doors in Brussels. The EU-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA), something that could fundamentally restructure Indian society and impact the lives of hundreds of millions, is being negotiated ‘on the behalf of the public’ by politicians on both sides who are champions of the type of economic liberalisation that has already been responsible for bankrupting many Western economies.
Negotiations began in 2007covering a wide range of areas, including various goods, products and services, as well as investment rules, government procurement; and intellectual property rights. After 16 rounds of talks, the issues are still being fine tuned. ‘Developed’ countries are resorting more and more to these types of bilateral trade agreements with individual developing countries because they want to continue to push their free trade agenda that was rejected by developing countries at the World Trade Organisation.
The EU-India FTA essentially represents the demands of big business in the West and results from their strategic hegemony over government bureaucracies and politicians. With Western economies in crisis, India represents potential ripe pickings for transnational corporations’ never ending compulsion for profit.
Kavaljit Singh of the Madhyam research institute notes that the EU wants to export its heavily subsidised dairy products to India (1). The Indian government has encouraged the co-operative model in the dairy sector with active policy protection. It therefore makes little sense that dairy trade will be opened up to unfair competition from subsidised European exports under the FTA. According to RS Sodhi, managing director of the country’s largest milk cooperative, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation, the FTA will rob the vibrant domestic dairy industry and the millions of farmers that are connected to it from their rightful access to a growing market within India.