India is in one of the last phases of the conclusion of an ambitious Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU). Sources suggest that the EU is pushing for finalization by mid or end 2011. The declared basis of this agreement between “equal partners” is reciprocity. Most of the seminar participants felt that there was a lack of official information on the progress of the negotiations, as well as about the agenda under discussion. Civil society, both in the EU and India, are increasingly beginning to view this reticent behavior of the negotiating governments as signs of an increasing “democratic deficit”, which could negatively impact several large stakeholder groups, especially in India.
The Heinrich Böll Foundation along with partners Anthra, MISEREOR and the Third World Network (TWN) organized under the auspices of the Ecofair Trade Dialogue a two day Expert Consultation in New Delhi on the 11. & 12.04.2011 to gauge the perception and threat potential of the FTA on the Right to Food of various marginalized stakeholder groups in India. An eminent panel, constituted both from leading grassroots’ movements as well as trade experts/ economists, provided inputs for the discussions. The dynamic space created during the conference provided a unique insight into the interconnectedness of issues and problems that could follow in the wake of trade liberalization without consultation of stakeholders whose livelihoods new forms of trade could impact. The conference focused specifically on possible impacts of the FTA on Farmers/ agriculture/ women, the Dairy & poultry sectors, the Trade in Good & Commodities and their relationships to national food security, and how possible uninhibited flow of FDI (as demanded by the FTA) into retail & services as well as land ownership might compromise the right to a livelihood and subsequently the right to food for large sections of the Indian population. The seminar drew significantly on the experience of various groups i.e. farmers, hawkers, academicians, NGOs etc. with liberalization post 1990 and its aftereffects in the Indian context. An international context of trade and its impacts was provided by a host of experts from the Heinrich Böll Stiftung and MISEREOR e.V., Germany. The outcomes & insights gained from the seminar will soon be published in form of official report, and will be used for advocacy and awareness-raising.
Download Power Point Presentations:
Challenging unfair Trade Policies with a Human Rights Approach, Armin Paasch, Senior Advisor, Misereor.
Impact on Food Security of Poultry Farmers, Ricky Thaper, Treasurer, Poultry Federation of India
FDI in Retail, FTA, and Food Security of weakest links, India FDI Watch
Agriculture, International Trade and Food Security: The Case of the EU-India FTA, Ranja Sengupta, Third World Network
Human Rights Impact Assessment: Investment and Services, Marita Wiggerthale, Oxfam Germany.