The APTA (formerly the Bangkok Agreement) is an initiative under the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) for trade expansion through exchange of tariff concessions among developing country members of the Asia-Pacific region.
“Many of the sectors where we benefit are of critical value to us. Particularly, China and Korea have offered textiles, chemicals, pharma, heavy engineering machine tools, gems and jewelery, iron and steel, agri and marine products for us,” commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters after the Cabinet nod.
“On its part, India will give market access to the other members in sectors like railway locomotives, rolling stock, nuclear plants, fissile material, aircraft and spacecraft. These are the items which are procured only by government agencies in India,” she added.
However, no product will come into the country at zero duty as APTA is a preferential trade agreement. “The duty will be around 7 per cent,” she said.
The latest decision of the Union Cabinet would be implemented after it is ratified during the fourth session of the ministerial council of APTA, which is due in January 2017.
Since APTA is a preferential trade agreement, the basket of items as well as extent of tariff concessions are enlarged during the trade negotiating rounds which are launched from time to time. Till date, three rounds of trade negotiations have taken place.
“Up to the third round, India has offered tariff preferences on 570 tariff lines at an average Margin of Preference (MoP) of 23.9 per cent and an additional 48 tariff lines to LDC members at an average MoP of 39.7 per cent at the 6-digit HS level. The third round, with respect to all participating states, cumulatively covered concessions on 4,270 products with MOP of 27.2 per cent,” an official statement said.
The Cabinet also gave its approval to amend the preamble of APTA to effect accession of Mongolia as the 7th APTA Participating State. Other amendments to incorporate the Sectoral Rule of Origin to the Agreement were also approved. (RKS)
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