June 13, 2008

Withdrawing from WTO not impossible: Rajiv Dikshit

Withdrawing from WTO not impossible: Rajiv Dikshit
It is not true that it is impossible to come out of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) treaties.
Any country can come out of it at any time, anti-WTO campaigner and founder of the Azaadi Bachao Andolan, Rajiv Dikshit, said here on Saturday.
Negative impact
Delivering a lecture on "The effects of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff on the Indian economy" at the Bidar Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
Mr. Dikshit said that the pact would have more negative than positive effects on the economy.
He said that according to section 16/1 of the pact, one of the rights of the countries party to the agreement is to withdraw from the agreement at any time.
He alleged that politicians and some vested interests are spreading the myth that once a nation enters the WTO, it cannot withdraw from it.
"The andolan is convinced that the agreement is detrimental to our economy.
"We want to create awareness among the people that coming out of the agreement is in the best interests of the country," Mr. Dikshit said.
Postcard campaign
He added that the andolan is organising a postcard campaign in support of its demand.
The campaign aimed at getting one crore people to write to the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, urging them to withdraw from the WTO.
After that is done, the andolan will file a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court to urge it to direct the Union Government to withdraw from the organisation in the larger interst of the countrt, he said.
Mr. Dikshit said that the agreements had reduced the powers of the Union and State Governments.
The Governments have not been able to ban soft drinks made by multi-national companies even after the Supreme Court found that they contain harmful pesticides, he said.
The Parliament could also pass a legislation to the effect that the Indian Constitution and the Parliament will always prevail above WTO agreements, Mr. Dikshit suggested.
He also advocated that organic farming and use of goods and services of Indian companies was the surest way to escape the harmful effects of the WTO treaty.
This will also ensure that a market is created for indigenous products, he added.
Effect on agriculture
According to Mr. Dikshit, agriculture will be the worst-hit sector as the treaty mandates that the re be a reduction of agriculture subsidies by 24 per cent every year.
It also forces farmers to sell agricultural produce at internationally prevalent prices, which is lesser than the price of the product within the country, he added.
Doctors, engineers, lawyers, chartered accountants and other professionals will face stiff competition from foreign professionals as the agreement allows them to practice freely in the country under the "equal national treatment clause" under the treaty.
The textile industry is already bearing the brunt of the agreement, as markets across the country are flooded with cheap goods from China and other Asian countries, he said.
Mr. Dixit said that industries of the old economy and new economy will also be effected as there is no level playing field between Indian and multi-national companies and the former are ill-equipped to face the competition.

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