Manish Chandra Mishra-
Indian farmers are fearing a trade deal between India and US that may ruined the market for local producers.
According to various Indian farmers association, US-China trade war and increasing agricultural output & decreasing exports of US have been posing a huge danger to the economy of US. Evidently, the agricultural sector of US is highly dependent on exports. In 2011-13, US had exported 70% of its production of cotton and almonds & 50% of rice and wheat. However in 2018, US’s export increased by meager 1% and its import increased by 6%.
Going by the figures, US could manage to accrue profit of only 11 billion dollars which has been the lowest in last 14 years. On account of its low exports, the price of US’s goods has declined in its own market.
The farmers have warned government that they will stage a protest on February 17. A press statement released by a farmers organization read, “If our government decides to go ahead on this proposed trade deal then it will be the biggest anti-farmer decision of this government. It is baffling to note that on one side our central government claims to double the income of farmers by 2022 , whereas on the other it is ready to sign such a derogatory trade deal whose detrimental impacts would be borne by none but farmers. As our duty, we will urge honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi through a letter to not to sign a deal which will be deleterious to the interests of farmers.
In upcoming days, we will stage a nationwide protest on February 17 against this proposed India-US trade agreement to warn central government. On February 17, Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh will give memorandum on the name of Prime Minister at more than 200 district headquarters.”
The press statement released by Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh, an organization of Indian farmers, said, “In order to make up for the lost export value, US has signed trade deals with Columbia, Panama and South Korea. It is anticipated that because of such deals, its agricultural exports will increase by 2.2 billion dollars. Under these circumstances, Donald Trump is coming on a visit to India and signing a commercial cum agricultural deal is foremost in his list of agendas.”
The statements alleged that Trump is set to find new markets to give a boost to its falling agriculture export sector. US had already scrapped GSP policy in 2019 under which India used to export products worth 6 billion dollars to US without any import & custom duty. To give a befitting reply to this measure of US at that point of time, India had increased import duty on 28 products that were being sent by US to India.
According to numerous reports, in order to revive its economy, US’s president is set to rethink about GSP and pressuring Indian government to import agriculture goods worth Rs 42000 crore to India from US.
On 13 November 2019, India’s commerce minister Piyush Goyal and US trade representative Robert Lighthizer met to give a kick-start to this commercial deal. In end of November, a committee from US came to India and discussed this proposed deal in detail with their Indian counterparts. If this deal comes to fruition, farmers of India would have to face disastrous repercussions as import duty on products like milk, apple, walnut , almond, soybean , wheat, rice, maize and poultry products will plunge down heavily. As a result of this, agriculture, dairy & poultry products worth 42,000 crore will be imported in India from US every year.
National Convenor of Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh Shiv Kumar Kakkaji said that unequivocally, farmers of India cannot compete with United State’s farmers.
“It can be gauged by the fact that in 2014, US allotted 956 billion dollars as subsidy to agricultural sector for next 10 years. In addition to this, US’s farmers bill in 2019 entails of increasing this subsidy to 867 billion dollars for next 4 years. By contrast, our government gave only 40 billion dollars as total allotment to agriculture, rural and irrigation sectors in recent announced budget. On one hand, US gives almost 217 billion dollars to their farmers as subsidy whereas India spends only 40 billion dollars in above mentioned 3 sectors. Large numbers of farmers in India are selling their produce below production cost which means negative subsidy and it results in Farmers debt & suicide. Other than administrative expenditure, direct subsidy for farmers in India is less than 1% of total production cost. Thus it becomes evident that our farmers cannot be compared with farmers of US. Land population ratio of US is different in comparison to India”, the press release read.
Farmer leader Jagjeet Singh said that after formation of World Trade Organization, US has been constantly increasing its subsidy in agricultural sector but it forces other developing countries to reduce their subsidies. During Doha summit of 2006, India mobilized all developing countries to raise voice against irrational practices of US. However if India now takes a back step and allows cheaper imports from US, it will malign its image among all developing nations.