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Last Updated:[24-02-2014 04:42:55 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Grassroots Trouble- Pakistani Farmers resist Free Trade with India

tradenews Looks like a normal trade relationship between India and Pakistan will remain a distant pipe-dream for now. An alliance of farmers was forged in the Punjab province of Pakistan recently, to oppose any government move to allow free trade with India in agriculture products from the Wagah- Attari land route. The alliance notes that such a move will destroy the indigenous agriculture sector and throw the bulk of the native farmers out of business. Trouble at the grassroots must prompt the Pakistani government to take notice of a decision that it had till now supported and strived towards.

The Farmers Associates of Pakistan (FAP), made up of large domestic farmers and smaller stakeholders from the Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI), maintains that such a free trade relationship will allow India to determine the prices of locally grown crops directly. This could pose as an obstruction to the steady growth of the Pakistani agriculture sector and allied industries, as well as the long-term food security for the Pakistani people. The association is also miffed with the government for not including any farmers’ representative when chalking down the finer points of this free trade agreement. The association also maintains that they aren’t opposed to agriculture trade with India; however the trade must be fair and mutually beneficial.

FAP is concerned about the huge subsidies that the Indian government bestowed upon its agriculture sector- a number pinned at about $50billion. This is likely to give the Indian side of the trade partnership an unfair advantage, and consequently, unless the Pakistani government raises its import taxes to the tune of the subsidies given to Indian agriculture sector, the equation will never be balanced. The need of the hour surely is a high powered bilateral talk that should sort through all these genuine concerns from the Pakistani farmers, and open up doors for free trade between these troubled neighbours.

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