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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


India to go slow on trade pacts with US and EU
The Prime Minister’s Trade and Economic Relationship Committee has decided to go slow on bilateral trade agreements with Washington and Brussels. Even in the limited context of services, the government would rather remain unget-at-able to the two largest trading partners of the country in the medium term. Much less would New Delhi harbour the idea of entering into more comprehensive economic agreements covering trade in goods, investment and financial services with the twosome.
What does India-Singapore agreement hold in store?
The India-Singapore CECA which will be effective from August 1, ’05 is reckoned to be forerunner for similar such agreements which are now being finalised and are close to fruition.
India, Singapore sign CECA to boost investments
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on Wednesday, signed the much awaited Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreement (CECA).
India replacing China as new trade attraction
With China-ASEAN free trade already under way, other free-trade agreements that are in the works include China-Australia, China-New Zealand, China-India, China-Pakistan and China-Chile as well as recent initiatives with Iceland, Japan, Korea and Thailand. However, this focus is likely to change, shifting slowly but steadily toward India.
India proposes FTA with Bangladesh
India has proposed Free Trade Agreement with Bangladesh according transit rights for Indian goods through Bangladesh territory.
Lanka sees end to trade bias
Sri Lanka is hopeful that whatever trade asymmetries remain, even after the adoption of the Indo-Sri Lanka free trade agreement (FTA), will be sorted out while finalising the comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) with India by the end of this year. This is according to a high-ranking Sri Lankan official.
Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement comes into force
The Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has come into force from June 12, marking a new stage in regional economic integration.
Textile sops for Sri Lanka under FTA
India will grant more concessions to Sri Lanka in the apparel and clothing sector under the existing bilateral free trade agreement. New Delhi has agreed to remove the present annual cap of 1.5 million pieces of clothing per category in the sector.
S’pore pact gets Cabinet nod
India has agreed to provide a series of tariff concessions to Singapore under the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), which was approved by the Union Cabinet today.
Vanaspati industry on brink of closure: IVPA
With India entering into Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Sri Lanka and other SAARC countries, a number of vanaspati manufacturers have shifted their production base there to avail concessions, sounding a death-knell for the domestic industry by rendering it non-competitive.

    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.