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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Asymmetries

So, negotiations for an EU-India Free Trade Agreement are on. What's striking about this is the asymmetry of the arrangement.

To start with, the European Union "shares and pools" the sovereignties of most states that were, only one to two generations ago, the colonial powers of the history of capitalism; India, on the other hand, is an iconic example of a former colony that attained independence from west European colonizers.

As such, the EU is a non-state public authority with limited competencies (e.g., it has no army, no police, no executive apparatus of its own at all); India is the world's second largest state, with enormous capacity at its command. With less than 7.5 percent of the world's population (and falling, compensated only by enlargements), the EU commands one-fifth to one-fourth of the gross world product (also decreasing); with approximately 17 % of the world population (and growing), India has five to six percent of the gross world product (also growing). Something like 25-30 languages are spoken in the EU, depending on how you count them (to be more precise, the European Union recognizes 23 "official languages," three "semi-official languages," not to mention five others, including Romani; in India, meanwhile, "29 languages have more than a million native speakers, 60 have more than 100,000 and 122 have more than 10,000 native speakers."

Multiple asymmetries have a tendency to be used against each other. It would be truly interesting to have direct access to the negotiations.

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cover page of the book

cover page of the book
image used for the cover design by Anannya Dasgupta