Opening mkt under FTA to trigger farmer suicides

New Delhi: Opening the market to highly subsidised European agri-products under the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) with EU will lead to increase in suicides among farmers, CPI-M warned on Wednesday.

Participating in the debate in the Rajya Sabha on the Motion of thanks to the President`s Address, Sitaram Yechury said the government was compromising India`s interest while negotiating multilateral and bilateral agreements on trade and climate change.

Referring to the FTA under negotiations between India and the EU, he said, "We will open our markets to highly subsidised (European) products."

This would push farmers to distress and "spate of suicides will gallop", he said, adding the FTA with ASEAN, which lowers duties, had a negative impact on the Kerala plantation farmers.

Negotiations for the India-EU free trade pact have reached an advanced stage and it is expected to be signed this year.

Yechury said reports suggest that Indian officials are negotiating in Geneva, WTO headquarters, a Doha deal compromising the official position taken so far by New Delhi.

India has resisted pressure of developed countries like the US to lower the margins of protection for farmers in case domestic prices get depressed or imports surge due to lowering of duties.

Yechury said a similar approach of compromising national interest was visible in the negotiations for a multi-lateral agreement on controlling the impact of climate change.

He said the government was making voluntary declarations about cutting emissions when the US emission level was 20 times more than India.

He also said India needs energy to fight poverty and should not take up commitments which come in the way of economic growth.