India’s approach to trade remains too anachronistic
Our export goals would be easier to achieve if we adapt our policy framework to global realities
Is there a more reluctant free trader among the G20 nations than India? Consider the arbitrary ban on non-basmati rice on 20 July, which has added to the inflationary spiral in food prices for developing countries. Or look at the small print of the ‘free trade’ pact with Australia last year where India promised to reduce tariffs on less than three-quarters of the products traded, while Australia has committed 100%. The inching reduction on 150% duties over the coming decade on wine, an industry one assumes had relatively few domestic lobbyists crying for protection, reveals how timid our trade deals are. Then there is the free trade agreement (FTA) under discussion with the European Union, which has taken more than a decade and a half of off-again, on-again negotiations. And the range of disagreements still to be resolved reportedly runs the gamut from tariffs and rules of origin to dispute settlement. In other words, most of the spectrum that drives international trade.