The Government is looking to address India’s concerns with the Free Trade Agreements(FTA) signed with ASEAN and other countries. While the decade-old treaty with the South East Asian Trade bloc has resulted in them having an undue advantage in the local market for products like agarbattis, TVs and others. In fact, China uses the FTA to route its exports through the ASEAN for favourable prices.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, addressing a FICCI event, said, “Reciprocal arrangements are being asked with the countries with which we have opened up our market. Reciprocity is a very critical point in our trade negotiations.”
ASEAN has told India that it can review the treaty only after it concludes the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RECP) signed with like-minded countries like New Zealand, Japan, Korea and China. This shows ASEAN’s reluctance to heed India’s concerns when it comes to the Free Trade Agreement.
With the NDA government hardening its stance in multinational treaties like the WTO agreement on trade facilitation and the RECP discussions, India has sometimes earned the ire of many countries for walking out of such negotiations.
In fact, Sitharaman, Commerce and Industry minister Piyush Goyal and Bibek Debroy, the chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the PM, are now working together to review FTAs and strengthen India’s trade engagements.