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Commerce Department fine tuning strategy for negotiating FTAs

The Hindu BusinessLine | 28 May 2024

Commerce Department fine tuning strategy for negotiating FTAs

The Commerce Department is working on finetuning the strategy and position to be adopted for negotiating free trade agreements (FTAs), including tackling of contemporary issues such as labour, environment and gender, to have optimum results.

Ways to leverage India’s FTAs to address emerging areas such as the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, supply chain disruptions, accessing critical minerals and benefitting from Artificial Intelligence was also discussed at the recent Chintan Shivir’ onFTA Strategy and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Trade Negotiations’ organised by the Commerce Department, per an official statement issued on Tuesday.

A session with former Secretaries and Ambassadors on FTA strategy’ highlighted how Indian FTAs must be driven by balancing geopolitics and geoeconomics, and focused on how regionalism (regional trade agreements) should complement multilateralism (global trade agreements). “The roundtable identified FTAs should foster value chain development, and the importance of integrating non-trade issues (such as trade and sustainable development or TSD) crucial for market access, as seen in chapters negotiated with, for example the EFTA bloc,” the statement noted. {{ Consultations }} It was also pointed out at the session that effective stakeholder consultations ensure realistic and attainable goals and a balanced approach to trade and industrial policies could optimise trade negotiations and outcomes. Senior government officials involved in India’s FTA negotiations from various Ministries, Departments, and government agencies participated in the programme. Speakers included experts in FTA negotiations, academicians, and seasoned legal professionals, apart from government officials. The participants also discussed how negotiating investment and trade together can create synergies, and the need for careful consideration of trade and the industrial policies together. The session oninclusion of new disciplines into FTAs’ dealt with the implications of new areas such as TSD (including environment, labour, gender, indigenous peoples) in trade agreements; the issues involved in enforcing domestic laws and ratifying international treaties; different approaches followed by developed countries for these areas (US and EU models) and the challenges involved in defining policy space, law enforcement, civil society involvement.

“ Some of the solutions suggested by participants included constructive engagement with stakeholders, supporting identification of measures and possible way out, and exploring pilot projects for implementation of those commitments,” according to the statement.

India is in the midst of negotiating a number of ambitious FTAs including ones with the UK, the EU and Australia.

 Fuente: The Hindu BusinessLine