India Betrays Farmers and Workers by Endorsing WTO December Texts; Mini-Ministerial Results in More US Demands

Original Publication Date: 
4 September, 2009

The much hyped Delhi mini-ministerial ended today with most developing
country delegates saying that it was business as usual with negotiations
going back to Geneva and Chairs of the Negotiating Committees of the Doha
Round.  However, Indian Commerce Minister Sharma summarized the meeting by
saying that both the G20 and the G33, "were of the view that the texts of
December 2008 must form the basis of future work."

Late last year the chairs of the Agriculture and NAMA working groups had
issued revised draft texts to be used as the basis of further negotiations.
The texts were criticized by many developing countries as imbalanced and
that differences amongst the membership were not adequately reflected. This
flies in the face of India¹s rhetoric that the Delhi conclave was about
development concerns.


"Minister Sharma promised us in a meeting with farmer leaders on September 1
that he would not undermine the interests of farmers in India at the WTO.
Then he turns around and endorses an agriculture text that allows us to
protect only 5% of our agriculture products from any customs duty cuts.
Furthermore it has ineffective safeguard mechanisms that will not save our
farmers from chronically subsidized products coming from the USA and EU.
This is a clear betrayal of the 65 crore farming community that is already
devastated by India¹s agrarian crisis".  said Yudhvir Singh from the
Bharatiya Kisan Union ( BKU). We will intensify our mobilizations at the
local, state and national level until Minister Sharma and the Prime Minister
live up to their promises of protecting farmers livelihoods.

The BKU organized a massive rally of 51,000 farmers who courted arrest in
the Capital on September 3, the day the meetings began.

The three day affair was mainly a talk shop about process that resulted in
yet another scheduled senior level meeting in Geneva on September 14.  It
also clearly revealed US¹s agenda of even greater market access than is
currently being offered in the December texts.  The US for instance wants
clear market access on specific crops such as corn, rice, cotton and
soya---the crops heavily subsidized and dumped onto world markets.  The
latter three are a source of livelihood for millions of farmers and
agriculture workers.

Ashim Roy, General Secretary of NTUI who led hundreds of workers from across
from the country said that, "It is most disappointing to see India gloat
over its feeble initiative to avoid being a scapegoat in the global arena at
the expense of industrial workers and fisherfolk and undermining national
autonomy.  The December NAMA texts will leave as little as 1% of water
between our applied and bound rates at the WTO. This is a real shame that
India cares more about validation from the US and the G7 rather than the
future of its own manufacturing and fisheries and defending the developing
world."

"The Indonesian trade minister as leader of the G33 will have a rude
awakening back home in the months ahead as she has also endorsed the
December texts.  These ministers need to realize that it is not about
numbers that the commerce industry compromises on but about life and death
for farmers and workers who cannot compete with transnational agribusiness."
Said Henry Saraghi from the Indonesian Peasants Union and La Via Campesina.

ENDS

Contact:  Yudhvir Singh, BKU 09868146405; Gautam Mody, NTUI 09868145370;
Henri Saraghi, La Via Campesina hspetani@gmail.com; Afsar Jafri, Focus on
the Global South 09833070803