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India Charts Course for Future Trade: “Chintan Shivir” Paves the Way for Strategic FTAs

India Charts Course for Future Trade: "Chintan Shivir" Paves the Way for Strategic FTAs
India Charts Course for Future Trade: "Chintan Shivir" Paves the Way for Strategic FTAs

In a significant development for India’s trade future, the Ministry of Commerce held a two-day “Chintan Shivir” (brainstorming session) on May 16-17, 2024. This high-level event brought together senior government officials from various departments, veteran government secretaries, and leading trade experts.

Their primary focus: crafting a comprehensive strategy for Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) that aligns with India’s ambitious Vision 2047 goals.

Shaping a Sustainable and Inclusive Trade Landscape

Discussions at the “Chintan Shivir” went beyond traditional trade considerations. Participants delved into incorporating critical aspects like:

  • Environmental and Labor Standards: Recognizing the growing importance of sustainability and ethical practices, the forum explored ways to integrate these standards into future FTAs.
  • Gender Equality: Ensuring equitable opportunities and participation for women in trade was a key topic of discussion.
  • Digital Trade: Embracing the digital age, the forum addressed the need for robust frameworks governing digital commerce within FTAs.

Strengthening Stakeholder Engagement

The event emphasized the importance of extensive consultations with stakeholders from both the public and private sectors throughout the FTA negotiation process. Experts highlighted the need for transparent communication, urging the Ministry of Commerce to share negotiation details promptly to allow stakeholders to prepare their perspectives.

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India’s FTA Landscape: A Multi-Pronged Approach

India is actively engaged in FTA negotiations with a diverse range of partners, including:

  • United Kingdom (UK): The India-UK FTA negotiations are well underway, with the 14th round completed in January 2024. Significant progress has been made in goods and services sectors. However, challenges remain, such as high tariffs on UK exports to India and ensuring fair treatment for Indian workers in the UK.
  • European Union (EU): The India-EU FTA is considered a high priority by both sides, despite its complexity due to non-trade issues. Negotiations completed their seventh round in February 2024, with the eighth round scheduled for June 2024.
  • Other Key Partners: Negotiations are also progressing with Peru (8th round expected in July 2024) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the Trade in Goods Agreement (next meeting in Jakarta, July 2024).

The Road Ahead: A Strategic and Collaborative Future for Trade

The “Chintan Shivir” serves as a testament to India’s commitment to crafting a robust FTA strategy that prioritizes long-term national goals, incorporates sustainability and inclusivity, and fosters strong partnerships. By actively engaging stakeholders and addressing complex trade issues head-on, India is well-positioned to navigate the ever-evolving global trade landscape and achieve its Vision 2047 aspirations.


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