bilaterals.org logo
bilaterals.org logo

India

The Indian government is getting more active in seeking out bilateral trade agreements, mainly with other so-called developing countries.

Delhi has signed limited free trade agreements with Sri Lanka (1998) and Thailand (2003) plus a number of preferential trade agreements (tariff concession schemes) with countries/blocs such as Afghanistan, Nepal, Chile and Mercosur.

At the end of June 2005, the government signed a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with Singapore, what many consider India’s first "comprehensive" FTA. India expects to upgrade its pact with Sri Lanka into a similar type of Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. India signed FTAs with ASEAN (2009), Korea (2009) and Japan (2010) as well.

Currently, bilateral FTA negotiations are going on with Australia, the GCC, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, Israel, New Zealand, Uruguay, Venezuela and Mauritius. Further down the line, the government is in various stages of considering talks with Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Korea, Egypt, SACU (Southern African Customs Union), Russia and Hong Kong.

In 2007/2008, India commenced FTA talks with European powerhouses EFTA and the EU. In 2010, it began talks with New Zealand and in 2011 with Australia. Since 2013, India has also been negotiating the mega-regional RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) agreement with the 10 ASEAN nations, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. These are the deals that are generating the most controversy and resistance at home.

India is also part of SAFTA (the South Asia FTA), BIMSTEC (aiming to develop an FTA), the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (a preferential trade agreement with Bangladesh, China, Laos, South Korea and Sri Lanka) and IBSA (the India-Brazil-South Africa triangle aiming to develop a trilateral South-South FTA).

India’s growing business community is lobbying for an India-US FTA, but for the moment Washington and Delhi are still building their bilateral relations through a possible investment treaty as well as smaller sectorial deals.

In 2017, Delhi expects to start talks on a trade deal with the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union.

Apart from these trade deals, India has signed 82 bilateral investment agreements with a wide array of countries. Following a few controversial investor-state disputes (ISDS), India released a revised model BIT in December 2015, which will serve as a basis for future negotiations and should replace existing treaties. This new model tries to achieve more balance by, for instance, requiring investors to use local courts before turning to international arbitration and leaving out the highly contested provision on “fair and equitable treatment”. The adoption of the country’s new model text has been holding up on-going negotiations, such as those towards a US-India BIT.

last update: October 2016


‘Trans-pacific pact could hurt India’
The book titled “Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: A framework for future trade rules?” has analyzed 5,544 pages of the TPP text says that if India joins TPP, norms may hit agriculture and manufacturing.
Asean pushes for liberalised trade pact with India
The members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have mounted pressure on India for clinching a liberalised pact in goods and services also involving six other countries, including China, by this year.
What would a India-US free trade agreement look like?
While an FTA is a long shot, the starting steps include India and US being more flexible on the domestic and international front.
’Early conclusion of RCEP crucial to boost trade with ASEAN’
India is looking forward to working closely with ASEAN in a range of activities in various sectors such as commerce, tourism, agriculture, environment, renewable energy, telecom, infrastructure, manufacturing, financial services, energy, green economy and skill development.
Can Modi free India’s trade policy from ’swadeshi’ shackles?
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, India is likely to meet a lot of offers for free trade and investment deals. With US, France and Canada leaders meeting their Indian counterpart in coming few months, it is likely that India may enter into a free trade agreement with them. Though, it will be interesting to know how Prime Minister Modi go ahead with these offers.
India-Switzerland talk trade and economic cooperation
India and Switzerland are negotiating the Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) in a bid to embolden the trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
India pushes for concluding balanced RCEP deal that includes services pact
India’s Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said RCEP negotiations may be taking longer than expected because of the economic diversity among member countries.
Trade talks: a busy year ahead for India
The year 2017 began with uncertainties in the global environment. On trade policy, the year did not end on any clearer terms than it started with. Uncertainty remains over several ongoing negotiations with different sets of countries. It is most visible at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and in India’s bilateral trade relations with Europe and the US.
India’s proposed investment treaty terms leave foreign partners cold
Having cancelled investment treaties with about 50 foreign governments last year, India is struggling to convince some to accept new terms that make it harder to seek international arbitration for disputes
Swiss Prez to discuss trade pacts with PM Modi in Davos
The two leaders will also discuss, among other trade and business matter, the envisaged free trade agreement between India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), of which Switzerland is a member.

    Links


  • Forum against FTAs
    The Forum is formed by trade unions, people movements and civil society organizations to campaign against the impact of free trade agreements on labour and livelihood rights of people in India.
  • India FDI Watch
    India FDI Watch is building awareness and facilitating grassroots action to prevent the take-over of India’s retail sector by corporations.