‘Trade pact with EU, Japan, Malaysia likely in next 1-year’

‘Trade pact with EU, Japan, Malaysia likely in next 1-year’

New Delhi: India would be able to further enhance its trade in next one year with the conclusion of its proposed market liberalizing pacts with the EU, Japan and Malaysia, the government said on Monday.

“I am optimistic that we shall be able to arrive at an ambitious and balanced outcome in these agreements (with the EU, Japan and Malaysia) over the next one year," commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said while announcing the annual foreign trade policy (FTP).

India is negotiating for a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with Malaysia and Japan and a broad based trade and investment agreement with the EU (European Union).

These three economies are significant from India’s point of view as its commerce with them accounted for about $93 billion in 2009-10. The country’s total exports in the last fiscal were $178.6 billion.

In 2009, India signed a comprehensive trade pact with South Korea and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). While tariff liberalization with South Africa has come into affect, only four Asean members -- Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam -- have operationalized the agreement.

“We are convinced that our enhanced and active engagement in international trade will contribute significantly towards realizing our aspiration to become a dominant economic player," the minister said.

Besides, India is also engaged in talks with Asean members to broaden its free trade agreement to include services and investments. Several rounds of talks have already taken place.

Sharma would be meeting key ministers of Asean nations in Vietnam on 26 and 27 August and the engagements are likely to speed up the trade talks.

Country’s exports were hit due to the global economic slowdown and contracted for 13-month in a row since October 2008. However, from November 2009 onwards the shipments have entered into the positive zone and government expects it to touch $200 billion this fiscal.

A free trade pact (FTA) helps in increasing economic activities between the signing countries as it reduces tariff on a large number of products.