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India-ASEAN trade deal ill conceived: Goyal

Live Mint - 28 July 2023

India-ASEAN trade deal ill conceived: Goyal

India-ASEAN trade deal signed under the UPA era is one of the most ill-conceived deals, commerce minister Piyush Goyal said on Thursday at an industry event. In FY23 alone, the trade gap ballooned by 70% to reach $43 billion.

India mostly imports capital goods, raw materials and intermediates from Asean, the tariff concessions under the free trade agreements (FTAs) have also been advantageous to many sectors and adversely impacted domestic companies, especially chemicals and metals manufacturers.

Goyal also said that in the free trade agreements with Japan and Korea, India has opened its markets for the two countries, but they have not allowed Indian exports to their country.

The trade-in goods agreement came into force between the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and India on January 1, 2010.Similarly, India and Japan implemented the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in August 2011.

A similar pact with Korea was implemented in January 2010.India is seeking a review of these trade pacts. The “ASEAN agreement…is the most ill-conceived agreement. If anyone would have read that, it is so unfair to Indian industry," he said here at a function of chemicals and petrochemicals industry.

India’s exports to Japan dipped to USD 5.46 billion in 2022-23 from USD 6.17 billion in 2021-22.

However, imports have increased to USD 16.5 billion in 2022-23 from USD 14.4 billion in 2021-22. India’s exports to South Korea fell to USD 6.65 billion in 2022-23 from USD 8 billion in 2021-22. However, imports rose to USD 21.22 billion in 2022-23 from USD 17.5 billion in 2021-22.

Similarly, the country’s exports to the ASEAN bloc have increased to USD 44 billion in 2022-23 from USD 42.32 billion in 2021-22. Imports too have risen to USD 87.57 billion in 2022-23 from USD 68 billion in 2021-22.The ten Asean members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

According to a report by Delhi Policy Group, India has had some issues with verifying country of origin (COOs). In 2018-19, the sudden spike in imports from Singapore and Vietnam raised doubts about FTAs being misused for declaring third-country goods as originating from FTA partners.

Earlier, India had to impose restrictions on gold imports from Korea after it was found that it had originated from a third country but was declared as originating goods, the report added.

 source: Live Mint