India should enter into TPP trade pact, says expert

The Statesman, March 11, 2016
India should seek to enter into relevant mega-regional trade pacts, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), which would help India enjoy larger potential gains from trade and enhanced competition, a senior British economic journalist has said.

Martin Wolf CBE, Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times–London, said India requires an open world economy and needs to use trade as a lever for domestic reform and enhanced competition and should play a proactive and ambitious role in the emerging trade architecture.

Addressing a session on ‘Evolving Global Trade Architecture and India’ jointly organised by FICCI and CUTS International, Wolf said the mega trade deals are very demanding agreements and that entry into TPP might allow very little bargaining leeway for India.

He said that India could join Trade in Services Agreement, Government Procurement Agreement or Environmental Goods Agreement, and as a developing economy could consider combining the bilateral, mega-regional and pluri-lateral options, said a FICCI press statement.

Wolf said that India which is a large and fastest growing economy will soon be the world’s most populous country; hence it needs to sustain fast growth for at least a generation. Its trade needs to expand at least in line with its GDP and domestic and global liberalisation should be strongly mutually supportive. He added that India is a relatively small trading power today, but its influence will grow.

In his observations Arvind Mehta, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, said that India was pushing hard to include services in all its comprehensive trade pacts. The services sector is a key area of interest for the country. It was pushing hard in the ongoing free trade agreement negotiations including with the European Union and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

NK Singh, former Member of Parliament, said that there was a need to restore the importance of WTO as a principle trade entity and organisation as it would strengthen India’s position on the global trade front.

Harshavardhan Neotia, president, FICCI, said that recent years have seen the emergence of three mega-regional pacts, namely TPP, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – both led by the United States; and the RCEP. Of the three mega-regionals, so far India has been involved in only one, namely, RCEP.
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