Govt attempts fresh focus on FTAs, talks with U.S., EU and ASEAN negotiators next week

  1. Indian Government will engage in three sets of important trade talks with the European Union (EU), the United States and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).
  2. The talks will focus on resolving its pending talks on trade and dispelling criticism that India has been protectionist and held up Free Trade Agreement(FTA) negotiations.
  3. The chief negotiator of the EU and the Commerce Ministry will meet in an effort to restart talks on the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) which was suspended in 2013.
  4. BTIA is a Free Trade Agreement between India and EU which was initiated in 2007.Even after a decade of negotiations,India and EU have failed to resolve certain issues which have led to a deadlock.
  5. Further,a three-member delegation of ASEAN will also visit India to discuss on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership(RCEP).
  6. The Assistant USTR (United States Trade Representative) will also be in India to restart talks as decided by Indian Prime Minister and the U.S. President when they met on the sidelines of the G20 summit.
  7. The two leaders had agreed that trade issues need to be discussed and trade ministers of both countries will be meeting soon to resolve issues.
  8. In 2014,the Indian government had decided to scrap all its FTA agreements with a view to negotiating new more equitable ones with various countries.
  9. But it has yet to close a deal on any one of them as it has been accused of imposing non tariff barriers on goods and asking for more access for Indian services.
  10. On the other hand, the election of trade hardliners in the U.S., Europe and other countries means that there may be less flexibility on the part of the negotiators visiting India next week.