India-ASEAN must announce review of FTA in goods by year-end: Anupriya Patel

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 14, 2021

Non-tariff measures faced by Indian exporters of auto, agri in ASEAN need to be removed, the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry said

India and the 10-member ASEAN must announce the review of the India-ASEAN free trade agreement in goods before the end of the year and non-tariff measures faced by Indian exporters of automobiles and agriculture in the bloc should be removed, said Anupriya Patel, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry.

Patel co-chaired the 18th ASEAN-India Economic Ministers Consultations held virtually on Tuesday with Brunei’s Finance Minister Amin Liew Abdullah, according to an official release issued by the Commerce & Industry Ministry.

The Minister emphasised the need to secure FTA provisions to prevent misuse of preferential treatment and highlighted the non-tariff measures faced by Indian exporters in accessing the ASEAN market, especially in the agriculture and auto sector, the release stated.

Patel suggested that both sides should make earnest efforts to finalise the Scoping Paper before the ASEAN-India Leaders’ Summit scheduled in October, 2021 and to announce the review before the end of this year. “The Minister also requested ASEAN to establish Joint Committees for the Review of the India-ASEAN Services and Investment Agreements without any delay,” the statement added.

The ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement was signed on August 13, 2009 and came into force on January 1, 2010. Since the ASEAN countries benefited more from the pact, India wants a review so that its exporters can gain more market access in the bloc. The 10 members of ASEAN are Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei and Laos.

“Trade arrangements need to be reciprocal, mutually beneficial and should balance the aspirations of both the partners,” Patel said.

India is not happy about the fact that its trade deficit with ASEAN has widened significantly since the pact was implemented in January 2010. A NITI Aayog study reveals that India’s trade deficit with ASEAN doubled to $10 billion in 2017 from $5 billion in 2011. The trade deficit with the bloc has subsequently increased to about $24 billion.

Published on September 14, 2021

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