CUTS in Action

April 24, 2005, The Hindu

The common man did not understand trade policies and issues affecting them even a decade after globalisation and the launch of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), speakers at a meeting said here on Friday.

It was therefore necessary that trade policies and WTO regime were demystified, so that people could participate in policy discussions, they noted.

The meeting was organised by the Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG) to launch Grassroots Reachout and Networking in India on Trade Economics (GRANITE), an initiative bringing together like-minded groups to understand the implications of globalisation and WTO on the livelihoods of farmers, weavers and the marginalised sections.

Trade policy

“It will seek to ensure that trade policies reflect and are pro-poor and create a platform for citizens to participate in policy discussions,” said Sriharini Narayanan of CAG, outlining the objectives and activities of the body. Sunder Ramaswamy, Director, Madras School of Economics, said globalisation and the WTO agreements were double-edged swords that had spread the markets for different products and services across several nations and it was important for the people to understand the policy framework so as not to be affected adversely.

“We should know how to negotiate for gains and minimise the losses,” he said.

K. Rajaraman, Additional Commissioner, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection, said while seeking to educate the people on trade and economics, the Government was also facilitating capacity-building for industries. It proposed to set up a State agency for International Trade and Commerce.

Bharath Jairaj of the CAG said that the objective of the initiative was to enhance economic literacy and involve people in the changes taking place in trade and economics.

The meeting say panel discussions on the issue facing textiles and agriculture industries in Tamil Nadu were held.