Farmer uniforms, civil society warn government not to join commercial pillar IPEF

Farmer costume Samyukta Kisan Morcha (NP) and civil society including 32 organizations that have written to the Prime Minister Narendra Modiand the Minister of Trade and Industry Piyush Goyal urge them not to participate in the commercial backbone of Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), the ministerial meeting scheduled to take place later this week in the US.

Raising concerns that India’s signing of the treaty would increase agricultural production costs and lower regulatory barriers to trade in genetically modified seeds, crops and foods, they said: We urge India not to join the trade pillar on the grounds of geopolitical considerations and without analyzing the full implications of the agreement.” They say that under the trade pillar of the agreement, while India will not have to cut taxes directly, the IPEF will still withdraw its commitments.

The four pillars of IPEF – Trade, Supply Chain, Clean Economy and Fair Economy – will include provisions covering a wide range of sectors including agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing and services, farmers, industry people and women.

“In particular, the IPEF will also impact policies related to the digital economy, environment and sustainability, taxation and finance among other issues,” civil society said.

The farmers group argues that India’s participation in the commercial pillar facilitates US-based agrotech companies and retail service providers and agribusiness infrastructure services. industry in this country.

“Given the large number of profound issues that we expect from the IPEF, we ask the government not to join the commercial pillar and cancel all IPEF negotiations as soon as possible,” said Samyukta Kisan. Morcha said in a May 26 letter to Modi and Goyal.

It argues that the legally binding rules on e-commerce promoted through the IPEF will have a tremendous impact on India’s agricultural policy and practice, destroying the decision-making capacity of the country. not only the government but also farmers and consumers, with “major consequences for their livelihoods, production. Samyukta Kisan Morcha warns: “This will also allow MNCs to enter the food retail sector through e-commerce.

Furthermore, the requirement of IPEF members to conclude with the International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties (UPOV1991) would threaten the natural and legal rights of Indian farmers to seeds and planting materials.

UPOV seeks to protect new plant varieties with intellectual property rights and does not recognize farmers’ rights.

“The right of small farmers to save seeds is not negotiable under a free trade agreement that would ensure exclusive control of the seed by MNCs,” the farmer outfit said.

According to civil society, “sustainable practices” under the IPEF can gradually enforce regulations on subsidies for the agricultural sector. It warned that some of the provisions would impact regulations related to seeds, pesticides, export restrictions and investment in productive resources.

Negotiating is not transparent

Civil society said the deal happened “without proper consideration and parliamentary oversight of the impact of IPEF on India’s economic and development policy space”.

The IPEF’s commercial pillar particularly including provisions relating to labour, gender and the environment, which India has opposed in its trade negotiations.

Emphasizing that the IPEF is more “intrusive” than the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), civil society argues that it is likely to advance US interests not through market access channels. directly, which, through changing regulations and standards, then indirectly leads to market access in the second phase.

Nor is it about giving up intellectual property rights to ensure environmentally friendly technology transfers or even to ensure drug accessibility.

“Despite the so-called stakeholder consultation, the IPEF remains a non-transparent and undemocratic trade agreement, almost unilaterally designed and driven by the world’s most powerful economy.” civil society said.

The organizations also emphasized that Indian trade officials are confident that the IPEF will not be enforceable and is a “soft” agreement that can be negotiated and finalized quickly as it does not offer any any legally binding commitments.

However, the IPEF will include “high standard commitments which will come into force” and India will have to abide by any commitments it makes, they warned.

All India Anti-Drug Action Network, All India Kisan Sabha, Bharatiya Kisan Federation, Amazon India Workers Association, Kerala Coconut Farmers Association, and Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh, among others are the signatories to the civil society letter.


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