MUMBAI: India is likely to sign the comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Australia and Chile soon following a renewed push to the pacts.
"We are very close to signing FTA with Chile. We are also having next level discussion with Australia for FTA agreement and we hope to conclude soon," Department of Commerce Joint Secretary Dammu Ravi told reporters.
He was speaking on the sidelines of industry consultation meeting on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Negotiations organised by CII here. He interacted with industry members to better understand the Indian industry’s concerns.
Ravi also said that the Centre hopes to sort out problems in Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) with European Union (EU) and FTA with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
FTA allows duty-free or low-duty trade in merchandise between the signatories.
Ravi said that the Euro crisis, Yuan devaluation and slowdown in global economy may hit India’s exports and government is taking measures to boost exports.
The Joint Secretary said that the process of RCEP will only go forward with the industry’s input and how the industry drives it.
According to Ravi, the next round negotiations on RCEP agreement is scheduled to be held at Busan in South Korea in October this year. The negotiations have moved into advanced stage as members are now finalising the tariff modalities.
Ravi emphasised that around the world tariffs have come down and hence tariffs are not a major issue these days and said non-tariff barrier is emerging as a major roadblock and this needs to be tackled through these trade agreements.
"RCEP will help India further the aims and objectives of its own "Look-East Policy. If RCEP materialises, it is supposed to be one of the most vital free-trade blocs in the world," Member of the Group Executive Board, Mahindra & Mahindra Anish Shah said.
"The combined geo-political resources would put the grouping into a totally different league, making it the most important economic grouping of the world," he added.
RCEP negotiations involves 10 members ASEAN regional block and its six FTA partners that includes India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
RCEP negotiations have become extremely important for Indian industry because of the presence India’s major trade and investment partners such as China, Japan and South Korea in it.
Since the negotiations have entered an advanced stage, Indian industry across all sectors need to flag their concerns to government’s negotiators urgently, Ravi added.