Govt sets up working group to examine impact of FTA

21 Dec 2015


The government is reported to have constituted an independent working group to study the impact of free trade agreements signed by the country with its trading partners, especially in the Asean grouping, amidst rising demand for import curbs by local groups.

The working group, headed by the chief economic advisor to the government, will examine the impact of free trade agreements (FTAs) signed by India, the Parliament was informed today.

The move comes in the backdrop of cheaper imports of edible oil, natural rubber, etc, forcing down prices for local producers

Cheap imports have made production of oilseeds and rubber unattractive for local farmers while reducing the flow of raw material to local industry as well.

While rubber players have demanded stopping of imports of natural rubber altogether, the Solvent Extractors Association of India has demanded that the government should raise the import duty on refined vegetable oils to 27.5 per cent from 20 per cent to stem the tide of cheaper overseas purchases.

Higher import duty on vegetable oils could make oilseeds planting attractive for local farmers and help millers improve capacity utilisation, SEA said in a statement.

"The ministry of finance has constituted an independent working group under the chairmanship of the Chief Economic Advisor to examine the impact of FTAs signed by India", commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

The working group would undertake an analysis of bilateral trade and investment flows with the countries with which India has signed FTAs, comprehensive economic cooperation agreements (CECAs) and comprehensive economic partnership agreements (CEPAs), at the aggregate and the sectoral level, she said.

It would also analyse the impact of these agreements on certain specific sectors in greater detail, she said.

India has signed FTAs with countries such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and ASEAN group.

Replying to a separate question, she said in the first meeting of joint working group on trade and commerce in April, India and Iran have agreed to examine the scope and the feasibility of entering into a preferential trade agreement.

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