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India-EEU officials hold talks for FTA negotiations: Report

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NEW DELHI : To boost economic ties between India and the five-nation Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) bloc, senior officials from both the sides held detailed talks in March to formally start negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA), said a report by PTI.

The five members of the EEU are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.

“Senior officers of both sides have met on March 28 here and have discussed formally starting talks for the FTA,” PTI quoted an official.

Two feasibility studies have already been conducted on the proposed agreement, said the report citing the official.

In such FTAs, two or more trading partners either remove or significantly cut customs duties on the maximum number of goods traded between them. These free trade pacts provide greater market access to Indian goods and services.

Indian exporters from sectors such as engineering goods, electronics and agriculture may get an edge from the India-EEU FTA. 

In the EEU bloc, Russia is India’s top trading partner with a bilateral trade worth USD 49.4 billion in fiscal year 2023 (FY23).

India’s exports to Russia stood at USD 3.14 billion in 2022-23, while imports were at USD 46.2 billion due to an increase in crude oil imports.

The bilateral trade with Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan was at USD 134.26 million, USD 111.81 million, USD 641.62 million, and USD 56.56 million, respectively, in fiscal year 2022-23. 

A similar free trade agreement was signed by India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The members of this bloc are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. 

Exports from India soared 11.9 per cent year-on-year to USD 41.4 billion in February 2024, the highest level since March 2023, boosted by sales of drugs and pharmaceuticals, engineering and electrical goods.

Exports to new markets like Africa, Latin America and Central Asia, have witnessed a significant influx of USD 234 million worth of goods, including cars, two- and three-wheelers, and precious metals, during the April-December 2023 period.

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