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Govt holds Chintan Shivir on FTA strategy, SOP for trade negotiations

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NEW DELHI : Department of Commerce holds Chintan Shivir on FTA Strategy and SOP for Trade Negotiations Economic Assessment and Modelling of FTAs, Services and Digital Trade in FTAs, and Leveraging India’s FTAs to address emerging areas like AI, critical minerals discussed.

Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry in collaboration with Centre for Trade and Investment Law (CTIL), Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi organised a Chintan Shivir on Free Trade Agreement Strategy and SoP for Trade Negotiations in Rajasthan.

The two-day Chintan Shivir facilitated discussions on various issues related to negotiations of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) by India, its position and strategy that should be adopted for such negotiations.

The attendees also deliberated on standard operating procedures (SoP) for FTA negotiations, capacity building and resource management for trade negotiations as well as certain contemporary issues under modern FTAs such as labour, environment and gender.

The Chintan Shivir unfolded across six dynamic sessions and one roundtable, each delving into critical themes: Economic Assessment and Modelling of FTAs; addressing New Disciplines into FTAs such as Labour, Environment, Gender, Indigenous Peoples; Services and Digital Trade in FTAs; Standard Operating Procedures for FTA Negotiations including Stakeholder Consultations; Capacity Building and FTA resource management; and Leveraging India’s FTAs.

The shivir addressed emerging areas such as Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), Supply Chain disruptions, Critical Minerals and Artificial Intelligence.

Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal spearheaded the Chintan Shivir, seeking to chart a strategic course for India’s future engagement in FTA negotiations.

The program drew active participation of senior government officials involved in India’s FTA negotiations from various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of Government of India.

Eminent speakers at the event included former senior officials of the Government of India, esteemed national and international experts in FTA negotiations, venerable academicians, and seasoned legal professionals.

Their presentations were embellished with invaluable insights, enriching the discourse with profound expertise and depth of knowledge.

A ‘Roundtable with Former Secretaries and Ambassadors on FTA Strategy’ was held to discuss how Indian FTAs must be driven by balancing geopolitics and geoeconomics, and focused on how regionalism (regional trade agreements) should complement multilateralism (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, as seen in chapters negotiated with, for example EFTA.

Lastly, it 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.

The Chintan Shivir ended with a wrap-up session and report of the event and special remarks by Sunil Barthwal and Additional Secretary, Department of Commerce, Rajesh Agrawal.

The event brainstormed various suggestions on formulating India’s FTA strategies and for adopting the standard operating procedures for enhancing India’s FTA preparedness.

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