Kerala seeks steps to insulate ryots from FTAs

Expressing deep concern over the Centre’s move to widen trade ties with Asia-Pacific countries, the Kerala government has sought proactive measures to curb liberal imports of agricultural products and ensure the livelihood security of domestic farmers.

In a memorandum submitted to the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar has sought measures to insulate farmers from the crippling impact of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). The government fears that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the proposed trade pact involving India and 15 other countries, including China, would bring tremendous pressure on Kerala’s agriculture sector.

The memorandum points out that the lowering of trade barriers under the WTO agreements and various FTAs had impoverished farmers and exposed Kerala’s economy to new threats. The trade pacts had unleashed a vicious circle of sizeable imports, low prices, low productivity, high cost of production, low demand and unremunerative prices. “The Government of Kerala is of the view that India’s large consumer market must be accessible for domestic farmers before it is opened to foreign trade.”

‘Include Kerala in talks’

The Minister has urged the Centre to include Kerala in the RCEP pre-negotiation talks on trade aspects including tariff structure of agricultural products like coconut, natural rubber, tea, coffee, spices, cashew, dairy, and marine products.

Exim trade experts feel that the tariff concessions offered under the Indo-ASEAN FTA and the misuse of the provisions of the Indo-Sri Lankan FTA had led to the large scale import of palm oil, tea, pepper and other spices, driving down the demand for domestic produce.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 2:13:17 PM |

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