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Amul objects to EU trade pact

New Delhi, Mar 27 (): Amul manufactured by Gujarat Co-operative Federation will soon be history and 3.2 million dairy farmers would lose their livelihood if India signs the Free Trade Agreement with European Union since it would open the influx of imported dairy products.

India’s milk revolution was sparked by this co-operative under Dr Varghese Kurien. This was a role model for other co-operatives. European cheese and other diary products which are facing a glut back home would come in cheaper, since it would be subsidised by the manufacturing countries. The Federation has written to Anand Sharma, Industries Minister that the trade pact should ensure that farmers were not affected.

Cheese brands Amul Emmental and Amul Gouda manufactured with Swiss expertise would have no level playing field since the trade pact would give the products from Europe a duty concession. The discussion is in final stages. Federation MD Sodhi says that EU is eyeing the huge Indian market and contrary to expectations the import bill will increase instead of exports.

Amul has pointed out that EU has a double speak on Indian products. On one hand, the EU was seeking extra protection for its geographical indicators over and above the World Trade Organisation rules but it is not accepted India’s lassi or paneer or stop the piracy of Ayurveda formulas which are marketed as allopathic drugs.

Indian dairy products are termed non-sanitary and hence not imported by EU, which Amul said was only a ruse. Paneer and lassi are widely manufactured in EU. This alone is ground for India to seek GI protection.The Indian farmer has three cows in his shed, while EU subsidy has a farmer owning an average of 500 cows. The present 30% duty on import of cheese will further be reduced and this will benefit only the affluent and this move is illogical, says an Amul letter.

Pharma firms have already expressed misgivings on a clause which gives EU powers to freeze bank accounts if they suspect patent violation.