No tax breaks for toxics urge NGOs

Environmental groups are calling on India and Japan not to pave the way for simple shipment of toxic materials as the two countries hammer out a trade agreement which will see duty dropped on a wide range of goods.

The two countries are currently negotiating a Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CEPA)which will remove economic barriers to the trade.

However, the discussion has set alarm bells ringing in the offices of environmental NGOs concerned that the agreement will mirror those ratified by Japan and Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines which included technologies containing toxic materials and wastes controlled by exisiting international agreements in the list of tariff-free goods.

Such an agreement would, say the NGOs, be open to exploitation by those in Japan seeking to export toxic waste for disposal in a developing country.

Toxic trade watchdog the Basel Action Network (BAN) and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) have written to officials in both countries demanding that there be no tax breaks for the trade in hazardous materials or related waste, that civil society groups be given a role in the negotiations and free access to all related information and that it hold manufacturers to account for the products they sell.

International law strictly regulates the cross-boundary movement of toxic waste in an effort to prevent the developing world from becoming a dumping ground for rich industrialised countries but loopholes exist due to a lack of clear definitions of waste and the decision of some states to ignore all or part of such agreements.

GAIA’s Jayakumar Chelaton said: “The CEPA could mean an honest move forward for Japan and India or it could be step backwards to the dark ages of waste colonialism.

“There is no place for toxic wastes in the future of Asia, and there is clearly no place for Japanese toxic wastes in India.”

Sam Bond

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