Resumption of FTA negotiations with the EU, new negotiations with the United Kingdom soon: official

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The timetable for resuming negotiations for the blocked free trade agreement with the European Union (EU) and for starting new negotiations for a pact with the UK will be “very early” and talks will begin shortly. after the completion of preparatory work, according to Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan said Thursday.

He expressed hope that by this year, or towards the end of the year, negotiations with the two regions should begin.

All the preparatory work to start the talks must be done and “very soon” after that, formal negotiations will begin, he told reporters.

“The interactions are already underway. At the beginning we will do some preparatory work, especially with the UK. The preparatory work is going to be a bit more elaborate as the negotiations start for the first time and with the EU as well, a certain amount of preparatory work must take place because there have been long interruptions in the negotiations, ”Wadhawan said.

During this very year, there is a likelihood of completion of preparatory work and the launch of negotiations, “The timetable is therefore very early,” he added.

The draft free trade agreement with the EU, officially dubbed the Expanded Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), has stalled since May 2013 as the two sides have yet to resolve their differences over several questions.

Last month, the UK government said it had launched preparations for a free trade deal with India, launching a 14-week consultation to gather public and business input before the start of the formal negotiations later this year.

With the EU, Wadhawan said that at the highest level, a clear agreement was there on the resumption of negotiations, the tracks on which the talks will take place and a clear determination to accelerate the finalization of the negotiations at an early date.

In addition, he said that India is also continuing to improve preferential trade agreements with Chile and MERCOSUR (Latin American countries – Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay).

India is also advancing negotiations with various other countries, including Israel.

“So very extensive efforts are underway. In addition, efforts (are underway) to review our existing FTAs ​​and upgrade them and realize their potential in a better way, whether with Korea, ASEAN and Japan, ”he said.

Asked about the country’s exports, he said the recovery was happening at a faster pace and several sectors were seeing healthy growth rates.

“We are anticipating something of around $ 400 billion worth of merchandise exports (in the current fiscal year) and we will work towards that because the first signs are very encouraging. We will reach the figure of around $ 400 billion. and for that, we will work hard to achieve it, ”said the secretary.

Indian exports rose 67.39% to $ 32.21 billion in May, driven by healthy growth in sectors such as engineering, petroleum products, gems and jewelry.

Regarding the rates of the tax refund scheme for exporters – Remission of duties and taxes on exported products (RoDTEP) – he said it was a new scheme and “needless to say it has some implementation issues, so we’ve been looking at those issues and very soon we will be able to implement “that.

He added that the production-linked incentive program (PLI) is “perfectly” compatible with the WTO (World Trade Organization).

Asked about the US announcement to suspend tariffs on six countries, including India, that have imposed or are considering an equalization tax / digital services tax on e-commerce businesses, the secretary said efforts were being made. underway at the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) to move forward on the issue of digital taxation.

“The broader understanding is that all of these issues emanate from the taxation of e-commerce businesses. They concern many countries and not just India. Efforts are underway on the OECD platform to go from there. ‘before.

“This is all part of a larger effort to achieve a comprehensive understanding of taxation in the face of recent developments in e-commerce, recent growth in e-commerce … I am sure the world will come to some understanding of those questions, “he added.

On Wednesday, the United States announced tariffs on six countries, including India, which have imposed or are considering an equalization tax / digital services tax on e-commerce companies, but immediately suspended taxes until six months to give more time to the completion of the current multilateral agreement. negotiations on international taxation at the OECD and the G20.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)



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