Food Security, Human Rights and the India-EU FTA agreement

Food Security, Human Rights and the India-EU FTA agreement

 

The European Union (EU) and the Government of India are currently negotiating a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that aims to liberalise 'substantially all trade' between the two trading blocks on a reciprocal basis. The agreement will affect not only trade in goods, but also services and investment, public procure-ment, intellectual property rights and other areas. Officially, the European Commission (EC) and the Government of India are aiming to conclude the agreement by February 2012. The slow pace of the negotiations, however, suggests that negotiations will continue into 2012.The Government of India (GoI) and the EU claim that an FTA will increase trade and investment for both partners. Improved efficiency and accelerated growth would, so they argue, translate into welfare gains and poverty reduction in India as well. On the other hand, many NGOs and social movements are concerned that an FTA with the biggest economic trading bloc would aggravate poverty and hunger in India. They fear that the FTA might severely limit the policy space for India to realise the right to adequate food and other rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which has been ratified both by India and the Member States of the EU.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 224 million people were already facing chronic hunger and malnutrition in 2006-2008, making India the country that is home to the largest number of hungry people anywhere in the world.To obtain more empirical evidence on this question, MISEREOR, Anthra, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, and the Third World Network (TWN Glopolis), all of which are members of the Ecofair Trade Dialogue, decided to conduct a Right to Food Impact Assessment (RFIA).  

Based on an expert consultation, a review of relevant studies, field visits to dairy and poultry farmers in Andhra Pradesh and information provided by officials of the GoI and the EC, this RFIA assesses the possible impact of an FTA between India and the EU on the Human Right to Food in India. Methodologically, the RFIA follows the draft guiding principles on Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIA) proposed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter. Our special thanks go to the rural communities for their hospital-ity and trust, which enabled us to conduct this assessment. We also thank all those who participated in our consultation or gave us further interviews, which added a great deal to our research.

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