To avoid RCEP-like stalemate, India to go slow on FTAs

19 Dec '19
3 min read
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock

India will not sign any free trade agreement (FTA) in a hurry or to the disadvantage of the industry and exporters, according to commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal, who recently told the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Exports Summit that New Delhi is talking to the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom regarding trade pacts.

“I can assure all of you that going forward, none of the FTAs will be settled in a hurry or will be settled to the disadvantage of Indian industry and exporters,” he said.

Even the first leg of India’s trade deal with the United States is for the benefit of both sides equitably, he was quoted as saying by a news agency.

As the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, which India opted out of last month after negotiating it for seven years, has been reduced to an India-China FTA, nobody wants it, he said.

He clarified that walking out of the RCEP does not mean that India does not want to be a part of the global value chain. He urged the industry to focus on becoming part of the value chain with Europe, the United States, ASEAN nations, Japan and Korea.

Goyal said that Indian business and industry have been put to disadvantage over the years and instead of addressing some of the real issues that industries face, more and more distress was caused to them.

Simultaneously, India's export faced huge trade barriers in other countries, he said.

After 2011 when FTAs were finalised, India's exports barely inched up while imports shot up drastically and therefore the country's trade imbalance became manifold, he added.

CII has identified 18 developing economies that hold the promise of sustained growth over the coming few decades based on current gross domestic product (GDP) levels and population indicators. These are: Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, Thailand, South Africa, Malaysia, Philippines, Egypt, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Ghana, Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Cote D’Ivoire, Cambodia and Guinea.

The report titled ‘India’s Exports to Emerging Economies: Targeting Prospects and Chasing Opportunity’ was released by Goyal.

CII’s research also pinpoints to 53 products at the 4-digit HS code level which hold strong prospects for greater inroads into the identified emerging economies. These products were identified based on a multi-tier analysis including the top imports of the identified countries, India’s current export competitiveness in each of the products (revealed comparative advantage) and current global export volumes.

Of this list, the products have been further sub-divided into three lists to indicate levels of export potential from India based on existing competitiveness and other factors.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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