The Hindu, 11 March 2006
Shipping pact with Brazil, S. Africa
Proposed agreement will boost trade volume
NEW DELHI: The Union Government on Friday announced that it is evolving an agreement in maritime shipping within IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) and working out modalities to implement the framework agreement in civil aviation in the region.
Giving the first indication of the efforts being made to put in place these agreements at a Conference on `IBSA Free Trade Agreements: Opportunities and challenges,’ Special Secretary (Economic Relations), Ministry of External Affairs, Rakesh Kumar, however, cautioned that since Brazil and South Africa were members of MERCOSUR and South Africa Customs Union, there were constraints in working out a trilateral FTA within the IBSA framework.
"That does not preclude, however, evolving a preferential trading regime. India has already signed a framework agreement with MERCOSUR, which will provide a preferential trade regime to India-Brazil trade. A similar imitative is being worked out with SACU."
"With these agreements in place, India’s trade with South Africa and Brazil will have a preferential trading regime. These preferential arrangements may be supplemented by focusing on identifying and eliminating non-tariff barriers and evolving a framework for trade facilitation,’’ said Mr. Kumar.
He said an agreement in civil aviation was already being sealed between the IBSA countries and details of its implantation were now being worked out and added that this agreement would result in higher intra-IBSA tourist traffic.
Indicating that an agreement in maritime shipping is being worked out among India, Brazil and South Africa which would increase the trade volume among the three countries, he said, "With a combined population of 1.2 billion, nearly $1.2 trillion domestic market and foreign trade of $300 billion, the IBSA grouping is in a position to emerge as a strong player with immense possibilities of mutual beneficial growth.’’
High Commissioner of South Africa to India Francis Moloi called for a trilateral free trade agreement between MERCOSUR, India and SACU, as it can be a good economic foundation for India-Brazil-South Africa cooperation under the IBSA Forum.
However, Ambassador of Brazil to India Jose Vicente De Sa Piemtel said the IBSA should delay the process of signing of an FTA and instead should focus on trade cooperation that is comprehensive and results in mutual economic gains.