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To promote and grow international trade, India adopted a policy of forming Regional Trade Agreements. They were assumed as“building blocks” towards liberalization of trade. The various levels of agreements are FTA – Free Trade Agreement, PTA- Preferential Trade Agreements, and CECA – Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreements etc. The first bilateral FTA was with Sri Lanka – the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISLFTA) on March 2000. Along with many trade agreements with South East Asian countries, India is examining the potential for cooperation in trade in goods and services, investments and other areas of economic cooperation with a number of Asian countries such as China and Indonesia. Along with“Looking East” policy, India has seriously begun efforts to develop preferential trade linkages with developing countries in Latin America (MERCOSUR, Chile), West Asia (Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Israel) and Africa (South African Customs Union (SACU), Mauritius).
Below are some major bilateral co-operations India has entered into;
The relationship with ASEAN is a key pillar of our foreign policy. AIFTA is a free trade area with 10 members of ASEAN and India which came into effect on 1st Jan 2010.This has been growing steadily with ASEAN being India’s fourth largest trading partner. India’s export to ASEAN has increased to US$ 31.07 billion in 2016-17 and India’s import to ASEAN increased by 1.8% in 2016-17 stood at US$ 40.63 billion.
ISFTA came into force on 1st March 2000, provides duty free concessions to a wide range of products traded between the two countries. India has now emerged as the largest and the most balanced trading partner of Sri Lanka. In 2012, imports from India stood at 19% of the overall imports of Sri Lanka, which was the largest source of imports to Sri Lanka. While Sri Lanka’s exports to India stood at 5.8% of overall exports of Sri Lanka, 3rd largest destination, with total trade between the two countries amounting to US$ 4.2 billion. The ISFTA has made a substantial contribution in bringing this situation with over 70% of Sri Lankan exports to India moving under the FTA and below 30% of the Indian exports to Sri Lanka moving under the FTA. At a time when Sri Lanka’s traditional markets in the West are showing slow recovery from the global economic crisis, the growing markets in Asia like that of India provide a great opportunity for Sri Lankan exports via the ISFTA.
International Organizations of Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal. Agreements are under negotiations.
EHS (Early Harvest Scheme) is between India and Thailand signed in October 2003, wherein 83 products were identified to be reduced to zero in a phased manner. EHS is used as way to build greater confidence amongst trading partners to prepare them for bigger economic engagement.
A Free Trade Agreement among India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and the Maldives searched on 6 January 2004 at the 12th SAARC summit in Islamabad, Pakistan. The member countries India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka shall bring down duties to 20% in first phase ended on 2007 and to zero by 2012.Other nations Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Maldives have an additional 3 years to reduce tariffs to zero.
Exports are an important driver of economic growth and help create much needed jobs along with improving balance of trade in our favor. India need to work on logistics, labor laws, trade policies etc. to increase competitiveness in International trade. To mitigate the adverse impact of global recession and boost exports in general, the government has always adopted positive policy measures, a few of them listed below:
For employment generation in rural and semi urban areas, the Yojana has been expanded to include agriculture produce and their value added products. Duty credit scrip benefits are guaranteed.
Exporters of all products to notified countries shall be entitled for Duty Credit Scrip equivalent to 3% of FOB value of exports. The scheme covers a total of 110 markets.
Export of notified products to shall be entitled for Duty Credit Scrip equivalent to 2% of FOB value of exports. This is to incentivize export of products which have high export intensity and employment potential.
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