Treaties that may impinge on sovereignty must be ratified by Parliament: Joshi

Warning that the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU) would seriously jeopardise Indian interests, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday demanded that the government halt the negotiations on the FTA and the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) pending political consensus.

Speaking at a news conference here, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi demanded an immediate release of negotiating texts and impact assessment studies of FTAs — particularly those with the EU.

Dr. Joshi said all treaties that impinged upon the sovereignty of the country and the fundamental rights of the people — including food security and health — and the federal structure of the country should be ratified after the scrutiny of Parliament.

“There are hundreds of FTAs between countries and whatever little gains India is likely to [amass] will erode fast due to the same country’s treaties with other countries. In the process India also loses the policy space, which it will never get back,” he said.

Dr. Joshi maintained that once the FTA became active, the EU would flood the market with products ranging from dairy, poultry, sugar, wheat, confectionary, oilseeds, plantation products and fisheries, some of which are strategic for India, and this would directly compromise India’s agricultural sovereignty and food security.

He said: “Obviously, an FTA which talks only about tariffs and not about trade-distorting tricks such as subsidies and other incentives is detrimental to our agriculture.”

Local procurement

Another area that would affect India was the opening up of procurement in Central and State government institutions. “Imagine a situation when our small vendors have to compete with the EU for contracts in Railways or other public sector undertakings.”

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