The idea of finalizing the RCEP deal is causing unrest amongst farmers in India. The government is in a dilemma about whether to protect farmers or promote international relations.
Union agriculture minister, Mr. Narendar Singh Tomar, talked with Commerce minister Piyush Goyal about farmer’s interest in the RCEP deal. ‘Farmers interest is our priority and they should not bear any losses because of RCEP pact.’ he said.
The reduction and elimination of import duty pose a threat to Indian manufacturing and agriculture sectors. In addition, industrialists fear large-scale dumping of Chinese goods in the market. Indian market is already dominated by Chinese products and increased import will severely affect businesses.
Farmers pointed to decrease in demand for their products with the arrival of inexpensive import of dairy products from other countries. Above all, millions of rural households depend on dairy farming for livelihood. “For us, dairy is a backyard business. We request all RCEP countries to keep this sector outside the proposed trade pact” said Giriraj Singh, Animal husbandry minister.
Farmer organizations from thirteen states held a meeting in New Delhi under the name of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh. This was followed by a press meet and the burning effigy of commerce minister as a symbol of aggression. “We have also decided to block the supply of essential foods across the country after November 2,” said Shiv Kumar Sharma, national assembler of RKMS. Besides, they have declared to submit memorandums to chief ministers and take the support of MPs from opposition parties.
India has a trade deficit of $56 billion with China alone. It is half of its trade deficit. Consequently, recent meeting between President Xi and PM Modi was about resolving the pending trade issues including RCEP dea. Further, China is looking forward to the Indian market after its trade war with the USA.
In conclusion, the auto-trigger mechanism to curb imports is not sufficient to protect the domestic market. The government needs a stronger policy to protect Indian farmers from losing their livelihood.