Mumbai, Maharastra, December 02, 2005
A Media Workshop under the Grassroots Reachout & Networking in India on Trade and Economics (GRANITE) Project was organised by Samarthan, a Mumbai-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) at Mumbai on December 02, 2005, involving media representative from the mainstream print media and also students of journalism. Eminent panelists and the expert journalists on the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) participated in the workshop. About 65 people attended. .Priya Khan of the Samarthan moderated the panel.
The workshop aimed at enhancing the understanding about the ongoing trade negotiations in the WTO and likely outcome of the Ministerial, especially in the field of agriculture. It also aimed at enhancing the understanding of the audience regarding the negotiations on non-agricultural market access (NAMA).
Key Addresses in the Inaugural Session
Priya Khan, Programme Coordinator, Samarthan
Inaugurating the workshop, Priya Khan gave the welcome address and shared the objectives of the Media Workshop. She outlined the objectives of GRANITE Project as well. Then she introduced the speakers to the audience.
Highlights of the Panel Discussion
Vijay Javandhia, Activist from the Cotton Belt of Vidarbha Region of Maharastra
Vijay Javandhia highlighted the cotton issue under the WTO, expressing pessimism about the outcome from the ongoing trade negotiations in the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial. He stressed the importance of support price for the farmers and said that the huge subsidies given to the farmers in the US was a serious threat to the dry land cotton producers in India.
Then he drew attention to the issue of Terms of Trade between Industry and Agriculture and noted that the Terms of Trade has been biased against the agriculture.
Mohan Mathew, Secretary, Indian Merchants Chambers (IMC), Mumbai
Mohan Mathew took up the issues related to NAMA explaining the contentious issues involved in the NAMA negotiations, which included the use of the ‘Swiss Formula’ for tariff reduction, tariff peaks and tariff escalation. He also elaborated the non-trade barriers (NTBs) faced by the developing countries.
Professor Milind Murugkar Coordinator GRANITE, and a journalist & expert on AOA
Professor Milind Murugkar stressed that without an analytical framework in mind it is impossible to have perspective to understand the potential impact of trade liberalisation on Indian poverty. He presented the contours of the broad framework, which placed agricultural growth at the centre of the poverty eradication process through trade liberalisation.
He pointed out that the increase in agricultural imports in the recent times was not related to WTO. Then he presented figures of the positive impact of the trade liberalisation on export of fruits, vegetables, rice, and pulses to the European market. He concluded by saying that one should be critical of the AoA with a view to demand fair agreement and not by opposing the WTO and cautioned that one should not support the vested interests of the protectionists lobbies in the west unknowingly.
Vote of Thanks
Vivek Pandit, Chairperson of the Samarthan gave the vote of thanks before concluding the workshop.