The Kerala perspective about ASEAN FTA !

Why does Kerala dread the Indo-Asean FTA ? Reasons are many.

Kerala Govt had asked the Centre to put 1400 items under the Negative List. Only 489 items have been now included in the Negative List.

The import tax on Kerala’s products like coffee, tea, rubber, copra, coconut, coir, cashew, pepper, cardamon, coconut oil etc will have to be brought down to 50% or less by 2019. Import tax for Palm Oil has to be brought down to 40%.

After 2005, import tax is cent percent for tea and coffee. It is 70% for pepper and 90% for Palm Oil. When import tax on these items comes down to 40%, the backbone of Kerala economy will be threatened.

The Left and Saffron parties are against the Congress Govt signing the deal. They are going to start movements against the deal.

There are 3.6 lk workers working in the coir sector and 2.5 lk in the cashew sector. This year’s cashew exports are 1500 crores. All these will be affected as the pact comes into effect from Jan 1, 2010.

The lowering of import tax on fish products and coconuts will affect the 1 million labourers working in the fisheries sector and 35 lk farmers in the coconut sector will also be affected.

While this is the Kerala perspective, the Center begs to differ saying that the pact may be a big challenge but it is a great opportunity. The Centre points out that India’s bilateral trade had gone to $ 37 b with ASEAN and $80 b with EAS ( East Asia Summit ) countries.

EAS countries are 16. Six more countries added to the ten ASEAN member nations – China, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, S Korea and India !

Jupiter will be in Aquarius, in India’s Eighth House, the House of Hindrances, when this pact becomes operational.

Let us hope that, after the initial hurdles, India will capture the one trillion dollar ASEAN market !

Article by Govind Kumar, astro scholar, writer and academician of . His Google+ Profile is and Youtube url