Ministry team to explain FTA benefits to stakeholders

A Commerce Ministry team will travel across the country to explain the impact of free trade agreements that were recently inked with Japan and Malaysia to the stakeholders.

The initiative is considered important in the wake of concerns raised in states like Kerala over India’s free trade pact with ASEAN, which resulted in lower tariffs on a wide range of imported goods.

Under free trade agreements (FTAs), duties are slashed or eliminated on various items, which may have a bearing on the domestic industry.

“... My colleagues will make a team and go out... all over the country to explain the provisions of the tariff concessions and services agreement that have been entered into so that everybody on a pan-India basis gets to know exactly what there is and what is the gain,” the Commerce Secretary, Mr Rahul Khullar, said here at a FICCI function.

Mr Khullar was interacting with industry representatives on the comprehensive free trade agreements that were recently signed with Japan and Malaysia.

Kerala farmers had some raised concerns over the India-ASEAN agreement.

Under the India-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which was inked on February 16 in Tokyo, both sides will eliminate import duties on 94 per cent of the goods traded between the two sides in 10 years.

The Indian textiles and pharmaceutical industry will get a major boost from this pact, he said, adding that domestic players should start exploring the business opportunities in Japan. The CEPA is expected to come into effect from April 1.

Under the India-Malaysia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), which was signed on February 18 in Kuala Lumpur, India will get greater access to the services sector of the South-East Asian nation’s market.

Furthermore, Malaysia will open up sectors such as accounting and auditing, architecture, urban planning, engineering, medical, dental, IT and management consultancy services to Indian companies.

The CECA, which will come into force from July 1, will also benefit Malaysian construction companies, Mr Khullar said.

“They know that India is going to invest about $1 trillion in the infrastructure sector in the coming years...they (Malaysia) have some of the great construction companies,” he added.

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