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India, Asean agree to speed up negotiations to conclude FTA review in 2025

The issue was discussed during the twentieth AEM (Asean Economic Ministers)-India Consultation meeting, held at Semarang, Indonesia

Photo: Bloomberg

Photo: Bloomberg

Press Trust of India New Delhi

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India and the 10-nation bloc Asean have agreed to fast track negotiations for the review of the existing free trade agreement in goods between the two regions and conclude the talks in 2025, an official statement said on Monday.
The issue was discussed during the twentieth AEM (Asean Economic Ministers)-India Consultation meeting, held at Semarang, Indonesia.
The commerce ministry said that the main agenda of this year's meeting was the timely review of ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) which was signed in 2009 and implemented in January 2010.
The economic ministers' meeting was preceded by AITIGA Joint Committee meeting, which deliberated the roadmap for the review and finalised the term of reference and the work plan of the review negotiations.
The review of the AITIGA was a long-standing demand of Indian businesses and the early commencement of the review would help in making the FTA trade facilitative and mutually beneficial, it said.
"The ministers agreed to follow a quarterly schedule of negotiations and conclude the review in 2025. The review of AITIGA is expected to enhance and diversify trade while addressing the current asymmetry in bilateral trade," it added.
The decision for review of AITIGA will now be placed in the forthcoming India-ASEAN Leaders' Summit scheduled in early September for further guidance.
Meanwhile, according to a joint media statement issued in Semarang, both the regions agreed to make the agreement more user-friendly, simple and trade facilitative for businesses to increase trade and support sustainable and inclusive growth.
The consultation was co-chaired by Indonesian Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan and Additional Secretary in India's Department of Commerce Rajesh Agrawal.
India has asked for a review of the agreement with an aim to eliminate barriers and misuse of the trade pact.
Recently, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal stated that the India-Asean trade agreement is the 'most ill-conceived' one.
Members of the Asean include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
In general, such review exercises include implementation issues, rules of origin; verification process and release of consignments; customs procedures; further liberalisation of trade in goods; and sharing and exchange of trade data.
Trade experts said the review demand is there because India's exports to Asean have been affected due to non-reciprocity in FTA concessions, non-tariff barriers, import regulations and quotas.
Concerns have also been raised about routing of goods from third countries in India through Asean members by taking the duty advantages of the agreement. Asean has a much deeper economic engagement with China through the Asean China Trade and Goods Agreement.
During 2010-11, India's exports to Asean increased to USD 25.7 billion from USD 18.11 billion in 2009-10. However, imports in 2010-11 rose to USD 30.6 billion from USD 25.8 billion in 2009-10.
Similarly, in 2022-23, India's exports to Asean increased to USD 44 billion from USD 42.32 billion in 2021-22. However, imports jumped to USD 87.57 billion in 2022-23 against USD 68 billion in 2021-22.
The trade deficit has widened to USD 43.57 billion in the last fiscal from USD 25.76 billion in 2021-22. It was just USD 5 billion in 2010-11.
Further the ministers also interacted with the ASEAN-India Business Council (AIBC)and noted the Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) flagged by the businesses.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Aug 21 2023 | 9:39 PM IST

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