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India held two-day “Chintan Shivir” to formulate strategy and SOPs for FTAs

The commerce ministry had organised a two-day “Chintan Shivir” for formulating strategies and standard operating procedures for free trade agreements. The Shivir organised on May 16-17, was attended by senior government officials of different departments, former government secretaries, and trade experts.

Government officials who attended the meeting included representatives from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Information Technology, and Ministry of Mines.

A senior government official told ANI that Chintan Shivir discussed various issues that include India’s trade strategy and vision for 2047, economic assessments and modelling of FTAs, inclusion of new disciplines like environment, labour, gender issues, and digital trade.

It was suggested by experts that comprehensive consultations with public and private sector players at every stage of FTA negotiations should be done. A few attendees asked the commerce ministry to share details of negotiations in a timely manner so that they could prepare their views on those agreements.
India is currently in negotiations with various countries and unions for free trade agreements. It includes FTA talks with the UK, EU, Australia, Eurasian Economic Union and Peru’

The much-awaited India-EU Free Trade Deal (FTA) negotiations have reached a decisive stage. The crucial round will commence after the formation of a new government according to officials familiar with the development.

For the India-UK FTA, a total of 13 rounds of negotiations have been held so far, and the 14th round began on January 10, 2024. Government Sources added that the chapter-wise textual negotiations are nearly complete, and negotiations on goods and services are at an advanced stage. “Both parties have made good progress and are working to resolve the pending issues.”

Among the pending issues, the UK wants India to significantly reduce tariffs on UK exports such as food, cars, and whisky, which are currently levied as high as 150 per cent. India, however, is concerned about the fairness of the rules applied to Indian workers temporarily transferred to the UK on business visas who have to pay national insurance, despite not being eligible for UK pensions or social security benefits.
The India-UK FTA negotiations are aimed at securing an “ambitious” outcome for the bilateral trade, which is currently at GBP 38.1 billion a year, as per recent commerce ministry data.

Negotiation talks for the India-EU FTA completed their seventh round in February this year. The eighth round of negotiations is scheduled from June 24-28, this year in Brussels, sources added.
External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar, has earlier termed the India-EU FTA the “most difficult FTA” due to the many non-trade issues involved. He said in Mumbai last week that this FTA is an important trade priority.

The 8th round of India-Peru Trade Agreement negotiations is expected in July 2024. The 7th round of negotiations held in New Delhi between April 8-11, 2024, were on track and both sides are working on the mutually agreed-upon next steps.

Whereas to the review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA), the 4th Joint Committee meeting was held on May 7-9, 2024, in Putrajaya, Malaysia. A total of eight sub-committees of AITIGA JC met physically alongside the 4th AITIGA JC. The fifth AITIGA JC meeting is scheduled in Jakarta, Indonesia, from July 29-31, 2024. Both sides are targeting to conclude the AITIGA review in 2025.

(ANI)

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Last Updated: 18th Jun 2024