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Commerce ministry's draft strategy to negotiate future FTAs to be circulated among key departments soon

May 29, 2024

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The commerce ministry has prepared a draft comprehensive strategy for negotiating future Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and it will be circulated to certain key departments soon to get their feedback, an official said.

The draft strategy in the form of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was recently discussed in a meeting involving former commerce secretaries, senior officers from different ministries and international trade experts. The aim is to streamline the FTA negotiation processes as several trading partners of India are coming forward for trade pacts.

This SOP is designed to ensure thorough analysis, meticulous background work, and systematic reporting throughout the negotiation phases and it would also include structured interactions with various ministries and stakeholders both before and after negotiation rounds.

It will be circulated to core ministries in about a month and it was discussed during a two-day ‘Chintan Shivir’ on May 16-17 at Neemrana, Rajasthan. Various other issues were also discussed, including India’s trade strategy and vision 2047; economic assessment and modelling of FTAs; inclusion of new disciplines into FTAs such as labour, environment, gender, and indigenous people; services and digital trade.

A separate session was also organised on leveraging India’s FTAs to address new forms/kinds of measures like CBAM (Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism), supply chain disruptions, critical minerals, and artificial intelligence. India is negotiating trade pacts with the UK, the EU (European Union), Peru, and a comprehensive trade deal with Australia.

It is also in talks with the Eurasian Economic Union for a trade agreement. India’s goods and services exports in 2023-24 reached an all-time high of USD 778.2 billion, up 0.23 per cent from USD 776.4 billion in 2022-23. The country has inked trade pacts with Mauritius, the UAE, Australia and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) since 2021.

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