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Govt plans to formulate SOPs for negotiating FTAs

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NEW DELHI : India is considering formulating standard operating procedures (SOP) for negotiating free trade agreements (FTAs) as the country is engaging with several trade partners for such pacts, an official said.

To discuss the various aspects of these agreements, the commerce ministry is organising a two-day ‘Chintan Shivir‘ on FTA strategy and SOPs for trade negotiations.

Former commerce secretaries, industry experts and government officials would participate in the deliberations on May 16-17 at Neemrana, Rajasthan.

Various issues that would come up for deliberations include India’s trade strategy and vision 2047; economic assessment and modelling of FTAs; inclusion of new disciplines into FTAs such as labour, environment, gender, indigenous people; services and digital trade; SOPs for FTA negotiations; and industry experience on utilisation of the FTAs.

A separate session is being organised on leveraging India’s FTAs to address new forms/kind of measures such as CBAM (carbon border adjustment mechanism), supply chain disruptions, critical minerals, and artificial intelligence.

“We are doing many FTAs and so we are making a SOP on how to go about them. The Chintan Shivir is on that only. How we will do capacity building, how to approach different countries and how to do an economic analysis. So these are technical issues and we will have discussions on these issues,” the official said.

The consultations assume significance as India is negotiating trade pacts with the UK, the EU (European Union), Peru, and a comprehensive trade deal with Australia. It is also in talks with the Eurasian Economic Union for a trade agreement.

India’s goods and services exports in 2023-24 reached an all-time high of USD 778.2 billion, up 0.23 per cent from USD 776.4 billion in 2022-23. The country has inked trade pacts with Mauritius, the UAE, Australia and the European Free Trade Association since 2021.

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