The union cabinet has approved the exchange of tariff concessions, on `Margin of Preference' basis, under the fourth round of negotiations under the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) and related amendments.
The Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (formerly the Bangkok Agreement) is an initiative under the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap) for trade expansion through exchange of tariff concessions among developing country members of the Asia Pacific Region. APTA's current membership include six participating countries, namely, Bangladesh, China, India, Lao PDR, Republic of Korea, and Sri Lanka.
Since this is a preferential trade agreement, the basket of items as well as extent of tariff concessions are enlarged during the trade negotiating rounds, which are launched from time to time. Till date, three rounds of trade negotiations have taken place.
Up to the third round, India has offered tariff preferences on 570 tariff lines at an average Margin of Preference (MoP) of 23.9 per cent and an additional 48 tariff lines to LDC members at an average MoP of 39.7 per cent at the 6-digit HS level.
Participating countries at the third round of negotiations cumulatively covered concessions on 4,270 products with MOP of 27.2 per cent.
The cabinet approved India's offer 28.01 per cent of dutiable national tariff lines (ie, 3,142 lines in HS2012 at 8-digit) with an average MoP of 33.45 per cent.
This will deepen the concessions being offered under this agreement. Approval was also given to amend the preamble of APTA to effect accession of Mongolia as the 7th APTA participating state. Other amendments to incorporate the Sectoral Rule of Origin to the agreement were also approved.
The fourth session of the Ministerial Council of APTA, which is scheduled to be held shortly, will formally implement all the decisions.