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Trade Deal: India Starts FTA Talks With Canada; Resuming Formal Negotiations With EU


India has started talks for a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Canada, on the sidelines of the 12th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at Geneva. The negotiations between the two sides went on for more than two hours and now, Canadian negotiators will travel to India soon.

This apart, India is on Friday also resuming FTA talks with the European Union. For this, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal is travelling to Brussels after the WTO marathon. India-EU FTA negotiations are stalled for nine years after 16 rounds of talks during 2007-2013. The EU sought duty concessions on automobiles, alcoholic beverages and dairy products, while India insisted on greater access to the EU market for its skilled professionals.

Exports to EU countries accounted for about 15.1 per cent of India’s total exports, while imports accounted for about 8.4 per cent of imports in the April 2021-January 2022 period. Bilateral trade in services between India and the EU was EUR 32.7 billion in 2020 with India exporting services worth EUR 17.3 billion and importing services worth EUR 13.1 billion.

The resumption of the formal negotiations with the EU comes after India has recently signed similar trade deals with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Australia. The country is also going to sign the FTA with the United Kingdom.In April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson also discussed trade, climate and energy during the latter’s two-day visit to India. On the India-UK free-trade agreement (FTA), Johnson said, “We are telling our negotiators to get it (FTA) done by Diwali (October).”

The India-UK bilateral trade in goods during 2021-22 stood at USD 16 billion, compared with USD 13.11 billion in 2020-21, a jump of 22.17 per cent. Exports worth USD 9.43 billion were shipped in 2021-22, while imports worth USD 6.59 billion were received in the same year. This gives a trade balance of USD 2.84 billion in the financial year 2021-22.

The trade between the two countries had stood at USD 15.45 billion in 2019-20, USD 16.87 billion in 2018-19, and USD 14.49 billion in 2017-18.

On May 1, India and the UAE signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. The CEPA, which has already come into effect, is likely to boost trade between India and the UAE from $60 billion to $100 billion in the next five years, India’s Ambassador to the UAE Sunjay Sudhir has said.

India and Australia also signed a landmark free-trade agreement, the economic cooperation and trade agreement, in April. This was India’s second such trade agreement in 2022 after inking a similar deal with the UAE in February.

The free-trade deal is expected to increase trade between the two sides to $45-50 billion in the next five years, compared with the current estimate of $27 billion. It will also create more than 10 lakh job opportunities. Under this agreement, tariffs will be eliminated on more than 85 per cent of Australian goods exports to India (valued at more than $12.6 billion a year), including coal, sheep meat and wool.

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