To help Indian industry leverage Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with partner countries better and maximise use of the negotiated concessions, the Commerce and Industry Ministry is mulling a series of steps, including setting up an FTA export advisory panel and launching websites and social media platforms to provide online resources.

“While India has signed a number of promising FTAs recently, such as ones with the UAE and Australia, and is negotiating several others with developed partners like the UK, the EU, and Canada, the fact that the country’s utilisation rate of such pacts is low cannot be ignored and the government wants to focus more on it,” a person tracking the matter told businessline.

Based on various studies, India’s utilisation rate of its FTAs is pegged very low, between 5 per cent and 25 per cent, compared to many developed nations where it is as high as 70-80 per cent.

At a recent Board of Trade meeting, the Commerce Department highlighted various ways in which it plans to help industry leverage old and new FTAs better, the source said.

Advisory panel

One of the plans is to constitute an FTA export advisory panel, consisting of senior personnel from a range of industry groups, to promote the benefits of the FTA. “Such an advisory panel can provide details of how particular sectors can go about exploring market opportunities in specific countries with which FTAs have been signed or are in the pipeline,” the source explained.

FTA websites and social media platforms as one-stop online resource sites is another avenue being explored. Such online platforms can also be used to get feedback from the industry on the proposed FTA, the source said.

India has signed a total of 13 FTAs, including three recently concluded FTAs, including the India-UAE FTA, the India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement and the India-Mauritius Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA).

The Commerce and Industry Ministry has set a goal of achieving $1 trillion in exports of goods by 2030, up from $422 billion in 2021-22, partly through judicious signing and use of FTAs with major trading partners.

India hopes to finalise FTAs with the UK, Canada, and the EU soon, while one with New Zealand is also in the pipeline.