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Review of FTAs to help local industry

Natchiappan: Stern

Calcutta, Dec. 26: India may relook some of the free trade agreements (FTAs) with other countries to protect the interests of the domestic industry, E.M.S. Natchiappan, union minister of state for commerce and industry, said.

Natchiappan said some discussions had already been initiated and further talks could be carried out once a new government takes office next year.

Provisions in the India-Thailand FTA may be re-assessed to protect the domestic electronics industry, he said.

“FTAs should be looked at as a protective mechanism and not to destroy the domestic industry,” he said today on the sidelines of an interactive session organised by the MCC Chamber of Industry.

India has implemented such trade pacts with several countries including Japan, Korea and Singapore. It is also negotiating over a dozen agreements with nations such as Australia and Canada as well as the European Union.

However, industry bodies and exporters’ grouping, the Federation of Indian Export Organisations, have raised concerns over the impact of such trade agreements on the domestic market.

India’s imports from Japan, with which it implemented a comprehensive free trade agreement in 2011, increased 3 per cent to $12.5 billion during the last fiscal.

Exports to Japan declined to $6.26 billion during the last fiscal from $6.32 billion in 2011-12.

Imports from Malaysia grew 9 per cent to $10.43 billion in 2012-13 from $9.55 billion during the previous fiscal.

Earlier this year, commerce secretary S.R. Rao had said that India would benefit more in the medium-to-long term from these FTAs.

Meanwhile, regarding China, Natchiappan said there had been a number of complaints from Indian importers that goods were not being delivered on time. He said the Chinese government had been asked to set up a dispute redressal system to settle such matters.

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