NEW DELHI: Ahead of WTO's 11th Ministerial conference in Buenos Aires during December 10-13, the RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) has initiated consultations among stakeholders in a bid to put pressure on government to protect Indian interests in fisheries, agriculture and e-commerce.
“We held a day long deliberations which was attended by the senior BJP leader MM Joshi, Union Minister S S Ahluwalia, and other trade experts. While the government has taken a firm stand for protecting subsidies to agriculture, there is a growing need to ensure that fisheries and e-commerce spaces are protected from cash rich multinational companies,” the SJM convenor Ashwani Mahajan told The New Indian Express.
The SJM stated that there is a proposal to push rules on fisheries subsidies at the December Ministerial. “While we support sustainable fishing and think big industrial fishing needs to be discouraged, we are extremely worried that the current proposals being discussed will actually allow developed countries to continue with their subsidies while banning subsidies that are for small scale informal fishing in developing countries,” added Mahajan.
The SJM noted that the special and differential treatment needed by fishermen in the country is not at all visible or actionable in the current proposals. “The proposal before the WTO would be detrimental to interests of traditional fisherman. If we agree to current proposals, they can affect their lives and livelihoods. Given the limited time available, it is better to reject bad outcomes than to try to improve them without doing thorough research on the implications,” Mahajan stated.
The SJM had earlier also cautioned the government to ensure that the national interests are not compromised during the RCEP (Regional comprehensive economic partnership) meeting in South Korea. “E-commerce is a complex and unknown area where the entire future of the country is potentially impacted. It can restrict future economic policy making and curb the government’s ability to regulate giant e-companies. India should not be giving away a critical raw material like data for free to large corporations to profit from affecting future manufacturing policy space,” Mahajan noted.
He stated that India should not allow the WTO to decide on rules shaping key policies on health, agriculture, finance. “Losing all tariff revenue on e-commerce as well as the regulatory control over imports is also unthinkable for a country like India. When we do not know how and what future e-technology will develop and what regulation it will need, the question of freeing up regulation in this area should not even arise at this juncture,” Mahajan has argued.