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FTA with China not a priority: Govt.

The Hindu, India

FTA with China not a priority: Govt.

22 April 2008

New Delhi (PTI): The government on Wednesday said a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China was not a "priority" for India due to "deep divisions" within the government and opposition from the industry.

"This is an issue (FTA with China) in which there are deep divisions both within the government as well as within the Indian industry," Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jairam Ramesh said in the Rajya Sabha.

As of now, pursuing an FTA with China is not a priority, he said, adding that "no final decision will be taken on a Free Trade Agreement with China without consultation with all stakeholders including industry".

India and China have set up a joint study group to ascertain the feasibility of an FTA.

While negotiations are underway, industry bodies like FICCI and Assocham have asked the government to adopt a cautious approach before signing the agreement, arguing that resultant tariff cuts will see Chinese goods flooding Indian markets.

China has become India’s number one trading partner with a massive increase in trade volume in the last few years.

India has already signed trade agreements with Singapore, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and is a signatory to the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).

To a separate question, he said Pakistan has violated international law by not granting Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India despite New Delhi extending it to Islamabad.

He said despite Pakistan not granting MFN status to India, trade between the two has increased with exports to that country touching USD 1.6 Billion and imports about USD 400 mn.