Chintan Shivir: India Hosts Strategy Formulation Event for Free Trade Agreements
Chintan Shivir: India Hosts Strategy Formulation Event for Free Trade Agreements

India hosted a two-day event called "Chintan Shivir" to strategize and establish procedures for free trade agreements (FTAs). The event, held on May 16-17, was organized by the commerce ministry and attended by senior officials from various government departments, former secretaries, and trade experts.

During the Shivir, officials discussed India's trade strategy up to 2047, economic assessments related to FTAs, and the integration of new aspects such as environmental and labor standards, gender issues, and digital trade. Experts recommended extensive consultations with both public and private sectors at all stages of FTA negotiations. Some attendees urged the commerce ministry to share negotiation details promptly so stakeholders could prepare their views.

India is currently negotiating FTAs with several countries and unions, including the UK, EU, Australia, Eurasian Economic Union, and Peru. Talks for the India-EU Free Trade Deal are at a crucial stage and will resume after the formation of a new government, as officials familiar with the process noted.

The India-UK FTA negotiations, which began their 14th round on January 10, 2024, have progressed well, particularly in goods and services sectors. However, some issues remain unresolved, such as high tariffs on UK exports to India and concerns about social security benefits for Indian workers in the UK.

India-EU FTA negotiations completed their seventh round in February, with the eighth round scheduled for June 24-28 in Brussels. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has highlighted this FTA as a significant priority despite its complexity due to non-trade issues.

Negotiations for the India-Peru Trade Agreement are also progressing, with the seventh round recently held in New Delhi. The eighth round is expected in July 2024. Similarly, discussions on the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement are advancing, with the next meeting scheduled for Jakarta in July 2024.

The "Chintan Shivir" underscored India's commitment to formulating a robust FTA strategy, ensuring broad stakeholder participation, and addressing complex trade issues with multiple global partners.

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