Deliberations on Free Trade Agreements by India's Commerce Ministry

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Deliberations on Free Trade Agreements by India's Commerce Ministry

The discussions held by the commerce ministry of India involved consultations with senior officials from different departments and trade experts in an effort to establish standard operating procedures for FTA negotiations. One of the key points that arose during these discussions was the importance of comprehensive consultations with both public and private sector players throughout the FTA negotiation process. Additionally, it was emphasized that sharing details of proposed FTAs with relevant line ministries promptly would enable them to prepare their views on those agreements effectively.

In an attempt to delve deeper into the various aspects of FTA negotiations, the commerce ministry organized a two-day event called 'Chintan Shivir' focused on FTA strategy and standard operating procedures for trade negotiations. This event brought together former commerce secretaries, trade experts, and officials from various ministries, including finance, IT, electronics, and mines, to participate in discussions surrounding India's trade strategy, vision for 2047, economic assessments and modeling of FTAs, and the inclusion of new disciplines like labor, environment, gender, and indigenous people in FTAs. Furthermore, there were deliberations on services and digital trade, as well as discussions on SOPs for FTA negotiations.

Apart from the general discussions, a specific session was dedicated to exploring how India could leverage its FTAs to address emerging issues such as the carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM), supply chain disruptions, critical minerals, and artificial intelligence. This strategic focus on utilizing FTAs to address new challenges indicates India's forward-looking approach in its trade negotiations. As India actively engages in negotiating FTAs with countries like the UK, EU, Peru, Australia, and the Eurasian Economic Union, the country's export numbers have shown significant growth, reaching an all-time high of $778.2 billion in goods and services exports for the year 2023-24. Additionally, India has inked trade pacts with Mauritius, the UAE, Australia, and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) since 2021.