CPI-M forms a 500-kilometre long human chain against ASEAN pact

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Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 3 (ANI): The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) organised a 500-kilometre-long human chain in Kerala to protest a treaty signed with the 10-nation Southeast Asian bloc on Friday.

The agreement, which will be effective from January 1, 2010, calls for tariffs on products to be reduced to zero between 2013 and 2016.

The Communists oppose the agreement saying its would sound the death knell for Kerala's agro-based economy.ddressing a gathering, CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat said the human chain is a pointer to the growing protest against the free trade pact.

"Kerala is a home of pepper production. If this agreement gets implemented in full in the coming 10-20 years then pepper production will be only a memory that has ever been produced in Kerala," said Karat.

The treaty signed with ASEAN, however, does not embrace software and information technology After strong lobbying by India's farm sector, led by Kerala and Karnataka, the terms of the FTA let India protect its agricultural sector by excluding 489 products, mostly commodities including rubber, from tariff cuts.

Tariffs on a much smaller list of products described as "highly sensitive", including palm oil and coffee, would be reduced over about 10 years, but only modestly. (ANI)

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