Times of India | 5 Dec 2007
India mulls FTA with China
NEW DELHI: India is considering a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China but a decision will be based on sensitivities of domestic industry, Government told Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
Replying to supplementaries, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jairam Ramesh said India has FTAs with five countries and six operational Preferential Trade Agreements. Besides, 11 FTAs are under negotiations and seven other are under consideration.
"India-China FTA falls under the FTAs being considered," he said adding the decision to enter into such agreements that liberalise trade in certain identified commodities is taken after a great deal of consideration.
The country has been in negotiations with ASEAN for a FTA for the past three-and-half years and Government’s guiding principle has been to protest sensitive segments of the economy particularly agriculture, textiles and small-scale industries, he said.
Ramesh said the FTA with Thailand that liberalised trade on 82 items has seen imports from Thailand rise three-fold in the past 30 months while exports have risen only two-fold.
Inverted duty structure where the raw material attracts the highest duty rates and finished product lowest led to the surge in import of auto and electronic components from Thailand, he said adding the anamoly is being looked into.
The Minister categorically stated that agriculture will not be included in FTAs. In the FTA being negotiated with ASEAN, only pepper trade is being offered to be liberalised while cardimom and coconut will continue on negative list.
Even on pepper, the import duty is to be brought down from 70 to 50 per cent by 2018, he said.