Make in India & Job Creation May Hold the Key to FTA Negotiations
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India plan and employment generation could become key in deciding India’s stand at free trade agreement ( FTA) negotiations, as suggested by experts and people involved in such talks.
Going beyond the conventional aim of trade expansion, the government may also look at linkages between trade and investment while negotiating FTAs.
In a brainstorming session last week among think tanks, former and current trade negotiators and the commerce department led by Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, it was agreed that one cannot have rigid positions in trade negotiations and that the negotiators must have something in hand to negotiate.
“There must be clear articula- tion of red lines before negotiations and a larger political mandate is necessary for taking decisions on key matters,” said an official who was present in the meeting organized by foreign ministry-run think tank Research and Information Systems for Developing Countries. It, the official said, was a freewheeling chat on trade issues faced by the government.
“Experts opined that India’s defensive strategy on FTA negotiations will not work,” said another official.
The issue of non-availability of data in services was also taken up and the need to expand services beyond the realm of IT and related sectors.
“We discussed that institutional capacity for negotiations is important, specifically with re- spect to longer tenure for negotiators,” the official said.
As a solution, bringing back former trade negotiators and making majority of trade services officers sit in Udyog Bhawan, the seat of the commerce and industry ministry, was considered. The meeting came a month after the Prime Minister’s Office suggested setting up a specialised team to negotiate international trade deals amid concerns that India isn’t moving fast enough on its FTAs, by developing expertise and institutional memory like other countries.
Senior officials are said to have suggested new ways of reviving WTO’s multilateral trading system and staying watchful of the changing trade environment.
On boosting exports, the official said while there was no buyer for giving incentives, there was consensus on improving export competitiveness and making businesses sustainable.
Govt may also look at linkages between trade and investment while negotiating