Ever since the Congress government assumed power after the elections, several statements are being made that India is now ready for taking the Doha Round of negotiations further. It is not clear whether the “India” includes its millions of workers and peasants whose livelihood and fortunes are very much linked to the WTO negotiations. Also, it is not clear why the reservations that the Indian government had earlier have now vanished and what actually is the current stand of the Indian government.

Ever since the Congress government assumed power after the elections, several statements are being made that India is now ready for taking the Doha Round of negotiations further. It is not clear whether the “India” includes its millions of workers and peasants whose livelihood and fortunes are very much linked to the WTO negotiations. Also, it is not clear why the reservations that the Indian government had earlier have now vanished and what actually is the current stand of the Indian government.

 
The Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, after a series of secret meetings abroad, has publicly declared that India is willing to help resolve the ‘WTO impasse’. The WTO’s 7th Ministerial Conference will be held from Nov 30- Dec 2, 2009 in Geneva.
 
The Government of India has also committed India to host a meeting of over 20 Trade Ministers from select WTO members on September 3-4 2009 in New Delhi to move the Doha talks forward. This has been announced hastily without consulting various associations of people who had raised serious issues about the negotiations and also suggested the stand that the Government should take in these negotiations. This is being condemned by various activist groups as a “behind the scene” manoeuvre by the Government.
 
The Government’s stand in the WTO negotiations will have a far-reaching impact on the livelihood of millions of workers and peasants. It may further aggravate the current trade, industrial and agricultural crisis reflected in food insecurity, price rise of essential commodities, peasant suicides, huge unemployment and closure of export and other units.
 
The EU and USA have been demanding that countries such as India agree to substantial cuts in industrial and agricultural tariffs and also open up their markets further in service sector areas such as retail, construction, banking and insurance. Earlier reduction in tariffs of agricultural commodities, such as palm and coconut oil, have devastated millions of peasants in India. The latest round of negotiations will affect newer sections of working people such as fishermen and workers in various service sectors – both organized and unorganised.
 
Lok Raj Sangathan has consistently taken the position that the stand that the Government of India takes in the WTO Trade Rounds should be in the interest of the vast majority of working people and not in the interests of monopolies and trade, industrial and finance capital. The position that it plans to take in the WTO cannot be determined by the Commerce Minister or a handful of Ministers. It should be transparent and discussed in the parliament and state legislatures. And very importantly it should consult people’s organizations who have consistently opposed the negotiations for very just reasons and work out a stand that is agreed upon by all stakeholders.

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