Govt. to in­dus­try: Sug­gest ap­pro­pri­ate tar­iff rates to pro­pose at the APEC mem­ber­ship ne­go­ti­a­tions

FICCI Business Digest - - Contents -

Arvind Me­hta, Ad­di­tional Sec­re­tary, Min­istry of Com­merce & In­dus­try, Gov­ern­ment of In­dia, has as­sured In­dian in­dus­try that the gov­ern­ment was in fa­vor of lib­er­al­iza­tion but at the APEC ne­go­ti­a­tion ta­ble it would be the voice of mod­er­a­tion. In­dia un­der­stands that high tar­iffs are not fa­vor­able but at the same time zero tar­iffs would also hurt the econ­omy. Hence, he urged the in­dus­try to rec­om­mend ap­pro­pri­ate tar­iff rates that the gov­ern­ment could pro­pose at the APEC mem­ber­ship ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Me­hta was speak­ing at a Stake­hold­ers' Con­sul­ta­tion on 'In­dia and APEC: Is­sues and Op­tions' or­ga­nized by FICCI jointly with Cen­tre for WTO Stud­ies in New Delhi on May 31, 2016. He said that the APEC mem­ber coun­tries were cre­at­ing a nar­ra­tive that In­dia should take cer­tain pol­icy mea­sures to sig­nal its com­mit­ment to APEC's vi­sion and im­prove its chances for APEC ac­ces­sion. The nar­ra­tive may re­quire In­dia to make bind­ing con­ces­sions for se­cur­ing APEC mem­ber­ship. There­fore, it was nec­es­sary that in­dus­try voiced its opin­ion with re­spect to their ex­pec­ta­tions and ap­pre­hen­sions from In­dia's mem­ber­ship at APEC.

He said that In­dia needs to con­sider the take­aways from the part­ner­ship as well as the losses that it would in­cur to be­come a mem­ber and added that In­dia may have to pro­pose a Vol­un­tary In­di­vid­ual Ac­tion Plan to project its as­pi­ra­tions to mem­ber coun­tries to elim­i­nate their con­cerns.

Me­hta said that In­dia has in­di­cated its will­ing­ness to be a mem­ber of APEC ear­lier as well and was re-en­gag­ing in the is­sue but the gov­ern­ment needed the in­dus­try's views on how com­pet­i­tive­ness, trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion, ease of do­ing busi­ness would be fur­ther en­hanced to meet the APEC stan­dards.

Dr V S Se­shadri, Vice Chair­man, RIS, said that the In­dian Gov­ern­ment needs to evolve a frame­work that clearly de­fines the ex­pec­ta­tions, state of In­dia's readi­ness and win-win sit­u­a­tion for both In­dia and APEC. In­dia needs to clearly ar­tic­u­late its in­ter­est, pur­pose and pol­icy po­si­tions to ap­proach APEC mem­bers. He added that trade gains cannot be the only ob­jec­tive of join­ing APEC, it would have to be a strate­gic part­ner­ship.

Dr Se­shadri said that as an APEC mem­ber In­dia would have the Busi­ness Travel Card which al­lows busi­ness per­sons to move freely within the mem­ber coun­tries with­out visa. This would give an op­por­tu­nity to In­dia to im­prove its com­pet­i­tive­ness, ease of do­ing busi­ness, peo­ple to peo­ple ex­change, busi­ness mo­bil­ity and in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment. He added that In­dia should speed up its ef­forts to be­come an at­trac­tive in­vest­ment hub.

Abhijit Das, Head & Pro­fes­sor, Cen­tre for WTO Stud­ies, said that In­dia should con­sider join­ing APEC only if it is con­fi­dent of un­der­tak­ing re­forms in all ar­eas of ac­tiv­i­ties of APEC and has the ca­pac­ity to en­gage mean­ing­fully in all ar­eas of APEC ac­tiv­i­ties. He added vol­un­tary and non-bind­ing re­forms un­der APEC could pro­vide the trig­ger for in­ter­nal re­forms in In­dia. APEC's non­bind­ing prin­ci­ples in dif­fer­ent ar­eas could be use­ful tem­plates for eco­nomic re­forms.

Das said that In­dian busi­ness could ben­e­fit from in­for­ma­tion ex­change and knowl­edge about de­vel­op­ments in the most dy­namic part of the world. The mem­ber­ship would en­hance fa­mil­iar­ity with emerg­ing global pol­icy is­sues and best prac­tices. But added that In­dia not as ex­ter­nally ori­ented as most APEC economies; may not be con­sid­ered as “co­op­er­a­tive”.

Dr A Di­dar Singh, Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, FICCI, said that In­dia has shown an in­cli­na­tion to­wards join­ing APEC and this could greatly ben­e­fit the In­dian in­dus­try. The vol­un­tary and non­bind­ing APEC part­ner­ship would al­low In­dia to forge free trade agree­ments and strengthen its sup­ply chain. He added that the Busi­ness Travel Card would be one of the benefits which would give greater ac­cess to In­dian in­dus­try.

L to R: Am­bas­sador H K Singh; Dr A Di­dar Singh, Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, FICCI; Arvind Me­hta, Ad­di­tional Sec­re­tary, Min­istry of Com­merce & In­dus­try, Gov­ern­ment of In­dia; Dr V S Se­shadri, Vice Chair­man, RIS and Abhijit Das, Head & Pro­fes­sor, Cen­tre for WTO Stud­ies.

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