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’India needs more FTAs, greater competitiveness to deal with mega trade pacts’

The Hindu, India

’India needs more FTAs, greater competitiveness to deal with mega trade pacts’

By Amiti Sen

12 May 2015

New Delhi/India is negotiating seven free trade agreements with countries such as Russia, Australia and Peru that could help it deal with possible loss of share in traditional markets such as the US and the EU that are negotiating mega regional trade pacts.

"We need to look at FTAs with countries in South East Asia, Latin America, CIS and Africa that will give us destinations that could compensate for erosion of preferences in traditional markets," Commerce Additional Secretary J S Deepak said, while speaking at a seminar on changing global economic scenario organised by FICCI.

Two proposed mega regional trading agreements — a Trans-Atlantic Partnership between the EU and the US and a Trans-Pacific Partnership between countries such as the US, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, Mexico and Vietnam — are expected to pose stiff challenges for India which is not part of the two pacts.

"Trans-Atlantic partnerships will throw challenges to countries like India and China. We need to make Indian products more competitive and develop more FTAs," Commerce Secretary Rajiv Kher pointed out.

A successful FTA with the 10-member ASEAN and its free trade partners under the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) could help India be part of the global value chain. " It could be part of the global value chain at the lower end to begin with that would give a boost to employment generating manufacturing," Deepak said.