In­dia, Asean agree to re­view free trade pact

To Help Pro­tect In­dus­try’s In­ter­ests: Goyal

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Business -

New Delhi: In­dia and the 10mem­ber As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (Asean) have agreed to re­view their decade-old free trade pact, they said on Tues­day, as In­dia’s deep­en­ing trade deficit prompts lo­cal in­dus­tries to de­mand changes to trad­ing ar­range­ments. Their joint state­ment, is­sued af­ter a trade min­is­ters’ meet­ing in Bangkok, did not spell out any de­tails of the re­view but said it aimed to make the agree­ment more “user-friendly and sim­ple”.

Hit by cheaper im­ports, small- and medium-scale in­dus­tries in In­dia, such as tex­tile man­u­fac­tur­ers and small farm­ers, have de­manded the gov­ern­ment take a fresh look at trade with Asean, which groups Brunei, Cam­bo­dia, In­done­sia, Laos, Malaysia, Myan­mar, the Philip­pines, Sin­ga­pore, Thai­land and Viet­nam. A panel of of­fi­cials from In­dia and Asean coun­tries will work on the “de­tails of the re­view and sub­mit an up­date” at the next meet­ing, the state­ment said. In­dia’s trade min­is­ter Piyush Goyal said in a tweet that the re­view will “help pro­tect the in­ter­ests of our in­dus­try and farm­ers, cre­ate jobs & boost Make in In­dia”.

In­dias trade deficit with Asean na­tions widened to $12.9 bil­lion in 2017-18, from about $5 bil­lion seven years ago. The free trade pact, which ini­tially ex­cluded soft­ware and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, was signed in 2009 af­ter more than six years of ne­go­ti­a­tions.

A pow­er­ful na­tion­al­ist group tied to Prime Min­is­ter Narendra Modi, which has long op­posed a China-backed Asia-Pa­cific trade pact due to In­dia’s trade deficit with Asean, said a re­view would “help in go­ing to­wards a more eq­ui­table and bal­anced trade”.

The min­is­ters also agreed to speed up the process of rat­i­fi­ca­tion of an Asean-In­dia trade ser­vices agree­ment signed last year, the state­ment said. The goods trade be­tween In­dia and Asean grew 9.8% to $80.8 bil­lion in 2018 from the pre­vi­ous year, while for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment in­flows to In­dia from Asean mem­bers rose to $16.5 bil­lion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.