The outcome of the tenth Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) attended by 162 countries at Nairobi is not merely a disappointment but is a setback. India has been grossly let down by this Modi-led BJP government.
India went into the negotiations with the hope of arriving at a solution on the issue of public stock holding programmes for food security, absolutely vital for mitigating the hunger needs of millions of Indians. Along with the G-33 coalition of developing countries led by Indonesia, India had proposed an effective and transparent draft agreement on special safeguard mechanisms to impose safeguard tariff duties to protect the resource poor and low income Indian kisans from large-scale imports of highly subsidized agricultural products from the developed countries. On both these counts this BJP government miserably surrendered in getting any assurance in the interests of India.
Further, the Doha development agenda, which contained many proposals that were not in the interests of the developing countries but also contained some that worked towards a parity on the issue of subsidies provided to farmers between the developed and the developing countries, has virtually been set aside. Currently, the US and EU heavily subsidise their farmers but through direct cash benefits and transfers and not through pricing mechanism like the Minimum Support Price guaranteed in India by the government. The pressure is on developing countries like India to reduce if not eliminate any subsidies connected with prices. However, the USA continued to subsidise its farmers to the tune of over $140 billion in 2014. Discussions on such issues now appear to be taken out of consideration.
By removing references to the Doha development agenda and instead making references to the 2005 Hong Kong ministerial declaration (where the then UPA government compromised India’s interests), this BJP government has completely surrendered India’s interests to profit maximization of multinational companies. The danger is that now the Multilateral Agreement on Investment which was shelved in 1996 Singapore Ministerial Summit at the behest of India (under the then United Front government) is now in the danger of being reintroduced.
Such surrender to US pressures and the interests of the developed countries by India at the cost of the life and livelihood of crores of our people cannot be accepted. The CPI(M) calls upon the people of India to join the widespread protests against such a capitulation by this BJP government to US pressures.