Govt fine-tuning new strategy on free trade pacts

New Delhi, May 28 (IANS): Ministry of Commerce and Industry has chalked out a new strategy for negotiations in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) which will lay greater emphasis on economic assessment and modelling of FTAs, services and digital trade in FTAs, and leverage India’s FTAs to address emerging areas like AI and critical minerals.

Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal spearheaded a two-day brainstorming session recently to chart a strategic course for India's future engagement in FTA negotiations.

The “Chintan Shivir” drew the active participation of senior government officials involved in India’s FTA negotiations from various ministries and departments. Presentations at the event were made by former senior officials, esteemed national and international experts in FTA negotiations, venerable academicians, and seasoned legal professionals, according to a commerce ministry statement issued on Tuesday.

The Chintan Shivir unfolded across six dynamic sessions and one roundtable, each delving into critical themes: Economic Assessment and Modelling of FTAs; (2) Addressing New Disciplines into FTAs such as Labour, Environment, Gender, Indigenous Peoples, etc.; (3) Services and Digital Trade in FTAs; (4) Standard Operating Procedures for FTA Negotiations including Stakeholder Consultations; (5) Capacity Building and FTA resource management; and Leveraging India’s FTAs to address emerging areas such as supply chain disruptions, Critical Minerals, Artificial Intelligence, the official statement said.

The participants also discussed how negotiating investment and trade together can create synergies and the need for careful consideration of trade policy and industrial policy together.

The need for Indian FTAs to be driven by balancing geopolitics and geoeconomics, and focused on how regional trade agreements should complement global trade agreements), with regional aspirations stemming from multilateral efforts.

The roundtable also identified that FTAs should foster value chain development, and the importance of integrating non-trade issues (e.g., Trade and Sustainable Development - TSD) crucial for market access.

The roundtable highlighted that effective stakeholder consultations ensure realistic and attainable goals and a balanced approach to trade and industrial policies can optimise trade negotiations and outcomes.




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Title: Govt fine-tuning new strategy on free trade pacts

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