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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


Inter-ministerial group to assess trade agreement with China
The Indian government is planning to constitute a high-level inter-ministerial group to weigh the pros and cons of having some sort of trade/economic pact with China.
FTA with Singapore to benefit India: NCAER
Changing its views on India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (ISCECA), the Delhi-based think-tank National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) has said that India will be benefitted from ‘plus’ component of the free trade agreement (FTA).
Thai team coming to discuss FTA
A high-level team from Thailand is visiting New Delhi on Monday to discuss the details of the proposed India-Thailand free trade agreement with Indian officials.
Trade pact with Thai hits a fresh bump
India’s proposed free trade agreement (FTA) with Thailand has hit a fresh roadblock with the latter insisting on the use of just the value-added criteria for determining rules of origin (ROO) instead of the twin criteria adopted under the early harvest scheme (EHS) presently under implementation.
’Sino-Indian FTA will not work’
India feels that a free trade agreement (FTA) with China will not work as it is not a market economy.
India has doubts about a successful FTA with China
India feels that a free trade agreement with China will not work as it is not a market economy. But India wants its relations with China to shift from the political to the commercial domain and has suggested both sides should ensure that they are not played against each other by the rest of the world.
FTAs open up sizeable opportunities, shows study
The explosive surge in India’s engagement with FTAs/PTAs is attributed to expectations of greater market access for India’s goods and services through preferential deals, positive impact of regional liberalisation for accelerated domestic reforms, promotion of political, security and strategic objectives, according to a Ficci study.
FICCI urges caution in trade pacts
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on Thursday urged the Centre to adopt a cautious strategy on signing trade agreements like ‘free trade agreement’ or ‘comprehensive economic co-operation agreement’ with other countries. There should not be any deflection of trade through these countries, resulting in losses for local Indian industries.
India scouts for PTAs in Latin America & Caribbean region
Encouraged by its successful preferential trade agreement (PTA) with Mercosur countries, India is trying to increase its influence in the Latin American and Caribbean region by exploring possibilities of PTAs with the Andean community, Chile and countries in the Central America Integration System (SICA).
Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement favourable to Lanka and exports to India increased in many folds
The purpose of India-Sri Lanka CEPA is to widen and deepen their bilateral FTA.

    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.