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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


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India is exploring the possibility of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with Australia, of which a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would be a component, Kamal Nath, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, said during discussions on Tuesday with Dr. Geoff Gallop, Premier of Western Australia.
PM approves trade pact talks with South Korea
With a view to further promoting India’s global engagement through regional trading arrangement, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today gave the green signal for starting negotiations with South Korea for signing a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
India may ink preferential trade pact with Mauritius
India and Mauritius are likely to enter into a Preferential Trading Agreement before going for a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
Thailand calls for deepening ties under FTA
Thailand has advised India not be deterred by the "aftershocks" of a tariff reduction on products under the Early Harvest Scheme in the Indo-Thai Free Trade Agreement (FTA) initiated in September last year.
Key Gulf-India Inc meeting in Jan
The second meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Indian businessmen will be held from January 28-29 next year in Muscat, Oman.
Thailand eyes more items under Indo-China FTA
Thailand is looking at increasing the number of items under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and China to 5,000 from the present 82. Besides, due to the existing FTA between the two countries, it also expects the bilateral trade to grow to around $5 billion from the present $3 billion.
Singapore, Vietnam shows interest in enhancing ties with India
Singapore and Vietnam today showed keen interest in enhancing trade ties with India in view of the immense opportunities for investors here.
EU asks for Singapore-like tax benefits
The European Union wants India to extend similar capital gains tax benefits to its investments in the country as is given to Singapore.
India hopes to expand scope of bilateral trade with Malaysia
India hopes to expand the scope and coverage of trade with Malaysia once a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) between Malaysia and India is completed.
India adopts ’Look West’ Asia policy
On the lines of its successful "Look East" policy to promote trade and investment with its Asian neighbours, India aims to adopt a similar policy for West Asia, an external affairs ministry official said here Tuesday.

    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.