Indian exporters will get greater market access in textiles and pharma in countries such as China and Korea under the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement, with the Cabinet approving the exchange of duty concession pact for the region on Monday. "The Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) is an initiative under the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific for trade expansion through exchange of tariff concessions among developing country members of the Asia-Pacific region," Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters here.
"Many of the sectors where we benefit are of critical value to us. Particularly, China and Korea have offered textiles, chemicals, pharma, heavy engineering machine tools, gems and jewelery, iron and steel, agri and marine products for us." This decision will be ratified during the fourth session of the ministerial council of APTA, which is due in January 2017. After that, all the decisions will be formally implemented. Sitharaman said this decision was agreed upon by the APTA members after several rounds of talks. The third round was held some time in 2001 and since then, this has been going on.
On its part, India will give market access to the other members in sectors like railway locomotives, rolling stock, nuclear plants, fissile material, aircraft and spacecraft. These are the items which are procured only by government agencies in India. She made it clear that nothing will come into the country at zero duty as this is a preferential trade agreement. The duty will be around 7 per cent.
"After prolonged and protracted negotiations, we have reached this... it has now got to be agreed by other countries and ratified by them. Ministerial meeting is in January 2017, where this will go through," she added. Asked about the impact of the proposed mega deal Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on this, she replied that RCEP is lot more ambitious. Although Indian exporters will get access in Korean and Chinese markets at a concessional duty, these two already have overcapacity in iron and steel and chemicals. Currently, APTA consists of six countries or participating states - Bangladesh, China, India, Lao PDR, Republic of Korea, and Sri Lanka. The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the exchange of tariff concessions, on margin of a preference basis, under the fourth round of negotiations under APTA and related amendments.