Congress to hit streets against ASEAN trade pact

A K Antony. PTI Photo

After a morale-boosting performance in the state polls, Congress on Friday put the Modi government on notice over the free trade pact with ASEAN member nations and six of its associate countries, terming it as the third biggest jolt to the economy after note ban and “hasty GST”.

Congress also announced nationwide agitation against the Centre's move to sign the framework agreement for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which it claimed was being done at the most inopportune time when the economy was in the doldrums.

The RCEP and other issues came up for discussion at a meeting of senior leaders convened by Congress President Sonia Gandhi here on Friday morning.

Addressing a press conference, Congress veteran A K Antony rejected suggestions that the party was making a U-turn as it was the UPA government led by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that had initiated negotiations on the RCEP.

“The economic context was completely different. We had a booming economy, but today we are staring at a catastrophe,” Antony said.

AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal said all district units of the Congress have been asked to carry out protests between November 5 and November 15 against the government move to sign the RCEP.

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the UPA never negotiated a free trade agreement with any group of nations that had China as a member.

“China will be the biggest beneficiary of RCEP,” Ramesh said adding that it would grant Chinese companies greater access to Indian markets.

Antony said at a time when the economy is staring at a crisis, the government should focus its energies on economic revival and not at granting market access to foreign countries.

Congress claimed that the RCEP will hit the manufacturing sector, farmers and those in the dairy business as Indian markets would be dumped with goods from foreign countries.

 

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