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India Faces Threat of Waste Imperialism from Japan

Written By krishna on Thursday, September 16, 2010 | 8:22 AM

Government of India’s delegation (from Ministry of Commerce and Industry) in Tokyo has agreed “in-principle” to a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Japan negotiations for it started in 2007. . The CEPA will formally be signed by the Prime Minister next month during his visit to Tokyo. Environmental health groups are opposed to such agreements also known as Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) including one with the European Union (EU). Indian Government is highly secretive about the agreements with Japanese government and EU. ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) has been campaigning against the India-Japan FTA that entails hazardous waste trade.

It is noteworthy that Japan launched a new waste initiative and venue at the G8 summit in 2004. The aim of this initiative is contrary to the prime objectives of the Basel Convention that sought minimization of transboundary movement of hazardous waste, Japan’s 3R Initiative calls for lifting of trade barriers for waste and for the free movement of recyclable materials, including toxic wastes, within a regional context. Using its financial muscle it has dictated the agenda of the 3R Initiative to promote regional waste trade schemes. Its interest in hazardous waste treatment facilities and ship-breaking yards at Alang Beach is illustrative of the same.

Japan is on a prowl to kill the Basel Convention through its Economic Partnership Agreements. In 2008, it signed ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement to promote waste trade hold in the region. ASEAN is 13 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The same is being replicated in India.

At the last Conference of Parties to UN’s Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes, Japan proactive role to stop the crucial Ban Amendment, 1995 from coming into force was intriguing. With the unfolding of Japan’s FTAs with other Asian countries, it is clear that it wants to re-define toxic waste as non-waste. It’s a case of linguistic corruption. A similar Partnership Agreements has been challenged in the Supreme Court of Philippines.

It has reliably been learnt and reported that the Commerce Ministry will seek the Cabinet's approval soon for the India-Japan free trade agreement (FTA) likely to be signed during the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's forthcoming visit to Tokyo in October. Singh is expected to attend the India-Japan Summit scheduled on October 25. "The negotiations have been completed and we want to take the Cabinet nod by the month-end" an official told Press Trust of India. The Prime Minister headed Trade and Economic Relation Committee has already cleared the market opening pact with Japan, with which India has a bilateral trade of $ 10.4 billion.

For India, the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan would be its third such pact. India has already signed similar agreements with South Korea and Singapore. The two sides have recently reached at an in-principle agreement for the pact.

Japan-India FTA will makes it difficult for India to impose a trade ban on toxic wastes which is an expressed right enjoyed by any sovereign state and is acknowledged by the Basel Convention. India must ratify Basel Ban Amendment instead of making itself vulnerable to toxic waste imports.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 9818089660, E-mail-krishna2777@gmail.com

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