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Modi shouldn't have gone to negotiate RCEP in Bangkok: Civil society network NAPM

By Our Representative
Civil rights network, the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has welcomed the news from Bangkok that India is holding up the proposed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), saying, it is due mainly to the "awareness created and pressure mounted by farmers' organisations, people's movements, conscientious experts and concerned citizens."
It said, "Rather than waking up at the eleventh hour the Modi Government should not have participated in the negotiations in the first place. The 16-nation free trade agreement poses a grievous threat to the lives and livelihoods of farmers, milk producers, workers, and toilers who sustain and nurture India's economy."
According to NAPM, while industry associations, trade bodies and the corporate interests behind them would support such an agreement, "The moot point is free trade agreements are in no way 'free' for farmers, Adivasis, Dalits, workers and others who live off their sweat and blood."
In a statement signed by senior activists, NAPM said, "It is a myth to believe that the 'rising tide of trade will lift all boats' or that trickle down works. Every serious research study and report has only shown the wealth gap is continuously increasing and wealth is only sucked upwards."
Suspecting that to "the last minute wake up of the Modi government, given its track record of working overtime for corporate interests, may only be a ploy for damage control", NAPM said, "If the government is really serious it should hold consultations with people and organisations whose lives and livelihoods will be affected."
Free trade agreements are in no way 'free' for farmers, Adivasis, Dalits, workers and others who live off their sweat and blood
Apprehending that, at a time when the economy is on the downturn leading joblessness, the RCEP negotiations under the pressure of China and other countries will flood the Indian market, NAPM said, it will also "impact the small and marginal businesses and manufacturers."
Pointing out that farmers' groups and peoples movements held protest demonstrations across the country at nearly 500 places asking the Government of India (GoI) to desist from signing "anti-people RCEP and withdraw from it completely", it urged the government to "listen and undertake steps to revive the economy."
Those who have signed the statement include Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Aruna Roy of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, Dr Binayak Sen of the Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties, Prafulla Samantara of the Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Meera Sanghamitra of the NAPM Telangana-Andhra Pradesh, and Sandeep Pandey of the Socialist Party (India).

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