Financial Express | 5 June 2018
India seeks to fast-track pact with MERCOSUR
by Huma Siddiqui
India has asked the MERCOSUR countries to fast-track negotiations for the expansion of the India-MERCOSUR Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), which is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strategy of expanding India’s trade basket. Sources said the countries that are part of the India-MERCOSUR PTA have been in discussions to increase the tariff lines in order to boost the trade volumes. The expansion of the agreement will enhance trade relations between the countries involved, and the trade volume target is set at $30 billion in 2030.
Talking to FE on condition of anonymity, a senior officer said: “The commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu who is keen about expanding trade ties with the countries in the region has reached out personally to some of the leaders of the group requesting them to fast track the expansion talks.”
Currently, Paraguay is holding the presidency of the MERCOSUR grouping.
“Both sides have agreed that there is an urgent need to significantly increase the number of tariff lines in the existing India-MERCOSUR PTA so that the agreement could cover a sizeable proportion of bilateral trade. However, due to differences amongst the members of the groupings, the expansion of the India-MERCOSUR PTA is getting delayed,” a senior officer said.
Last year, as reported by FE, during a meeting in New Delhi, a list of 484 tariff lines was handed over to Brazil which was holding the presidency of the grouping at the time. They had offered the same number of lines to India. India is keen on fast tracking the process on the expansion of the PTA and negotiations on Margin of Preference (MoP) on the tariff lines to be offered by each side.
All South American countries are linked to MERCOSUR (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay), either as member state or associate member. Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador are associate members of MERCOSUR, in addition to Guyana and Suriname that acquired this status in July 2013. Both sides have already exchanged lists of items where each side is seeking greater market — India has exchanged a wish list of 4,836 tariff lines mentioning 8-digit HS codes with MERCOSUR in July 2016 and the MERCOSUR grouping has exchanged their wish list of 3,358 tariff lines.