Hyderabad, Jul 24 (PTI) People’s groups today called for rejection of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the mega Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which is currently being negotiated in the city.
People’s groups from different parts of the city took out a protest rally demanding to stop RCEP talks.
The RCEP is a proposed mega regional FTA, which 16 countries including India and ASEAN countries are negotiating.
At an event here, speakers said the agreement was being negotiated in “complete secrecy” and the RCEP chapters have been negotiated behind closed doors.
“Few texts under negotiation have been ‘leaked’ online and analysed which are the only source of information. The analysis indicates that the RCEP as the world’s largest mega-FTA will impact nearly every sector of the economy and all aspects of society and is an onslaught on people’s lives, livelihood and human rights,” they claimed.
“It is shocking that such far-reaching agreements are being negotiated without discussion either with the public or in the Parliament, state legislatures and local self governments,” the activists said and demanded that India should immediately halt RCEP talks and negotiations on other FTAs.
“We want democratic governments to retain the sovereignty to make laws and policies in the interests of the citizens, particularly the more vulnerable sections – whether on import tariffs, subsidies, minimum wages or protection for people and environment,” they said.
The women’s groups working on farmers, Dalits, land rights, national resource rights, indigenous women’s, minorities took out a protest rally at People’s Plaza here.
It alleged that it (RCEP) as a reinforcement of the “destructive” development model that the existing free trade agreements and the policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation have inflicted upon the world’s poor and particularly poor women.
According to Burnad Fatima from Federation of Women Farmers Rights “Women farmers are going to be the worst affected by this free trade agreement. Land grabbing for corporate agriculture will impact our food sovereignty, rights over our land and seed preservation. It will force women to migrate to seek labour and become vulnerable to trafficking.” “RCEP is taking away seeds from farmers. There can be no food sovereignty without seed sovereignty. Women farmers should unite to reject FTAs that trade away farmers rights and land rights.” Fatima said.
“RCEP and other similar free trade agreements are in reality the legal contract to give multinational corporations right to destroy traditional livelihoods and lifestyles of indigenous communities.
“Indigenous women as the tradition keeper of their community s local knowledge, seed, biodiversity and food sovereignty will lose their control as RCEP will put these knowledge and biodiversity into the hands of corporations under the guise of intellectual property,” Women s Rights activist and APWLD partner Banamallika Choudhury claimed.
“Free trade agreements imply neither freedom nor are based on agreements. Disclosure, transparency and open discussions are required on RCEP whose texts are couched in complicated legalese,” said Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj Abhiyan and All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee.
Earlier, 22 people from Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+), Positive Women’s Network were among those who were taken into preventive custody when they held a protest near the venue of 19th round of RCEP negotiations that are currently underway.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.