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Signing RCEP will be suicidal as it affects all sectors: Congress

New Delhi | Updated on October 25, 2019

(From left) Senior Congress leaders Randeep S Surjewala, Jairam Ramesh, AK Anthony and KC Venugopal during a press conference in New Delhi on Friday   -  Sushil Kumar Verma

Dairy industry and agriculture will be hit hardest, say party leaders

The Congress launched an attack against the Centre over the proposal to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The party said if Prime Minister Narendra Modi signs RCEP, it will be the third blow to the country’s economy after demonetisation and the “hastily implemented” GST.

Senior Congress leader and former Defence Minister AK Antony said the country is heading for a deep economic crisis and slowdown.

“It affects almost all sectors of the Indian economy — agriculture, employment, industry and trade. Most Indians are finding it difficult to manage their day-to-day life. This is a time for a responsible government, that is concerned about people’s difficulties. It is time the government concentrates fully on deploying all resources available for a speedy economic revival,” Antony said.

“As a party, Congress is always sensitive to the people’s concerns. Congress is totally opposed to the RCEP negotiations and agreement,” he told reporters here on Friday.

Chinese imports fears

Former Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said RCEP will liberalise imports from China.

“We do not know what happened in Wuhan and Mahabalipuram, but this is happening after the meeting of Wuhan and Mahabalipuram. This is going to encourage Made in China. Our agriculture sector, dairy industry will be in crisis. The MD of Amul wrote a letter to Piyush Goyal asking him not to sign RCEP agreement. He wrote in detail about the consequences of RCEP on the dairy industry, there cannot be a bigger betrayal to our farmers,” Ramesh said.

He added that our Ministers claim that we will have control over data and it will stay in India. “India’s stand that ‘data flow’ should be done keeping in mind national and security interests, but 'national interest’ has been removed from the current draft of RCEP. When our economy is going through a bad phase, liberalising imports, signing RCEP is a suicide. The economy is sinking and the Prime Minister is going to sign the RCEP, it will be a mess,” he added.

Congress media in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala said India’s trade deficit is $120 billion and RCEP will further worsen it.

“Interests of farmers and farm labourers will be adversely affected, autonomy on seed will be a matter of serious concern. Dairy industry will be in danger due to foreign products, fish farming will be adversely affected. Prices of agricultural products will fall,” he said.

“After RCEP, China will directly or indirectly sell their cheap goods in large numbers in India and harm our local industries,” he said.

Published on October 25, 2019

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