Press Statement

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:
The Free Trade Agreement in Goods with the ASEAN signed by the Indian Commerce Minister in Thailand yesterday reflects the misplaced priorities of the Congress led Government at a time of global recession and a worsening agrarian situation. The FTA has been signed without any discussion about its possible impact in the Indian Parliament.
This FTA would gradually eliminate tariff, starting from January 2010, in 80% of the goods that are traded between India and the ASEAN countries. Such across the board elimination of customs duties would be harmful for domestic industries, agriculture and fisheries, which have already been adversely affected by the economic slowdown. This would have an adverse impact on the economies of the states, particularly Kerala. The claim made by the Indian Government that excluding some items from the list of tariff concessions would address the sensitivities in agriculture and other sectors do not hold much water. The sharp cuts in import duties in the future would affect the livelihood of a very large number of people in the country.
The Government of India should immediately take appropriate measures to protect the interests of those sections who will be affected by this agreement. It should bring out a white paper explaining the impact of this agreement on the Indian economy and discuss the issue in parliament.