EU-Asia free trade pact
Civil society groups slam EU free trade pacts
13 October 2010, Inquirer.net
BRUSSELS, Belgium—Civil society groups that gathered in Brussels for the Asia Europe People's Forum (AEPF) have called for the cancellation of the free trade agreements between the European Union and the developing economies, particularly those with India and South Korea.
In a dialogue with some progressive members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Ashim Roy of India's New Trade Union Initiative said all the positive characteristics of the Indian economy will be reversed by the corporate-driven EU-India FTA.
“We now have one of the lowest drug prices in the world. That will be no more if the treaty is signed. We have nationalized our banks. With the FTA, our banking system (that provides loans to micro enterprises) will collapse,” he said.
That is why, Roy said, Indians “will resist” the FTA.
Socialist Party MEP Joe Higgins of Dublin acknowledged that Europe's big business are “dazzled” by the potential profits that more than one billion people may provide in the EU-India FTA. Europe's big businesses want the “prize irrespective of the consequences...(as they) bludgeon India into submission,” he said.
In a statement, the AEPF said the signed FTAs with India and Korea will not only affect the two countries, but everyone else in Asia. “India is a country that produces cheap medicine. Entering the agreement with EU will create a misery for people in Southeast Asia who are dealing, for example, with AIDS (acquired immune-deficiency syndrome) and malaria.”
Joseph Purugganan, of the EU-Asean FTA Campaign Network, said one of the problems of the FTA negotiations is that the focus is only the economic side, not the social or the environmental aspects.
Charles Santiago, a member of parliament in Malaysia and also co-coordinator for Asia of AEPF, said FTA negotiations must be based on what the people need, not what the corporations want.
AEPF is the civil society forum parallel to the leaders' Asia Europe Meeting (Asem). Both AEPF and Asem are inter-regional bodies that bring together people and government officials from the European Commission, the 27 member-countries of the European Union, the 13 member-states of Asean Plus Three (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan, and South Korea), and also India, Mongolia, and Pakistan.