Preferential duty tariff that exporters can claim under the FTAs (free trade agreements) is not being fully utilised. Data shows that only 10 to 12 per cent of the entire trade is happening under the FTAs, said Ravi Capoor, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

At an awareness programme organised by the Director General of Foreign Trade, Coimbatore in association with the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) and EEPC India here, Capoor said “FTAs are the least understood. India has signed 16 trade agreements so far out of the 200 inked by various countries across the world between 2000 and 2015. Most of the agreements signed by India are with countries in the South-East Asian region.”

“While the partnering country to the agreement can avail itself of the preferential tariff agreed to by the group (of countries) amongst its members, it is not being utilised either due to lack of awareness or because of the exporter’s dependence on the clearing agent,” Capoor said. He urged the participants to look up the indiantradeportal and avail the concessional tariff.

“Every one can access the site for free, know the countries which are partners to the various trade agreement inked with India and the tariff advantage for the product. We are concerned that while we have the membership of these clubs, we have not taken advantage of it,” he said and admitted to the huge gap in data collection on export under FTA.

Justifying the reluctance/delay in signing the FTA with the European Union, he said “the EU has strength in areas such as wine, automobile and dairy products and is interested in selling these products to India. And, in a globalised environment, every country will look to manufacture products where it has the core competence/strength be it labour, raw material, technology, resources and so on.

“India is becoming a hub for small cars and textiles is another emerging area. Tariff will not be an issue 15 years down the line.”

Get the best standard “As the world moves towards non-tariff barriers, India will have to move up into high technology and high value added products to compete in the global market. Work towards getting the best standard,” Capoor said.

Speaking on the sidelines, he said the Commerce Ministry is analysing how the Trans Pacific Partnership would impact India. “The Centre for WTO studies is now doing a study on this. Signing the TPP would take another year or two.”