New Delhi: Former union minister Veerappa Moily has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed his concern regarding the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
He asked the Prime Minister to not permit the import of dairy products, areca nut and pepper under any Free Trade Agreement.
"I very strongly recommend not permitting the import of dairy products, areca nut and pepper under any Free Trade Agreement, in the best interest of the farming community of the country who are already in severe distress owing to unseasonal rains and floods," Moily's letter dated October 22 read.
Pointing out to the government's support to the dairy industry under the "National Dairy Plan", the Congress leader said that India is a more labour-oriented country and many landless agricultural labours are mainly dependent on Dairy farming unlike New Zealand or Australia or any other European model of Dairy farming.
"In the given situation allowing imports of any dairy products under Free Trade Agreement/Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would not hold good to the Indian Dairy Industry and the entire Indian farming community," read the letter.
He underlined that Milk is the highest value crop giving 27 per cent of agricultural income to the farmers which cannot be ignored to realize the objective of "doubling the Indian Farmers Income by 2022".
Moily said if we agree for the Free Trade Agreement with New Zealand, it will also open doors to other countries from the European Union and the USA which will create an "unimaginable" situation in the country.
"Initially, we may procure the dairy products at cheaper prices from the above-said countries but it will lead to the collapse of Indian Dairy Industry as the dairy activity in the country will become unviable to our farmers and entrepreneurs," read the letter.
The Congress leader said that the Milk producer's income will be reduced by half if we take a wrong step of opening up our dairy market under RCEP/FTA with any country.
RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between six partners namely People's Republic of China (ACFTA), Republic of Korea (AKFTA), Japan (AJCEP), India (AIFTA) and Australia and New Zealand (AANZFTA).
The RCEP negotiations were launched by leaders from 10 ASEAN member states (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and 6 ASEAN FTA partners (Australia, People's Republic of China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand).
India has raised concerns regarding market access and other issues leading to an imbalance of trade between some of the partner countries.