Plan to put in place SOP for negotiations on trade pacts

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New Delhi: India plans to put in place a standard operating procedure (SOP) for negotiating its free trade agreements and address new disciplines such as labour, environment, gender and indigenous peoples.The commerce and industry ministry will meet former negotiators and experts over a two-day Chintan Shivir to discuss India’s strategy and SOPs on its FTAs and address measures such as the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, critical minerals and Artificial Intelligence in trade negotiations.”We are doing many FTAs and need SOPs on how to go about them. Technical issues such as capacity building, how to approach different countries and how to do an economic analysis would be discussed,” said an official.To be held on May 16-17, the discussions will focus on India’s FTA strategy, and economic assessment and modelling. “It is important to know about the utilisation of the various FTAs,” said another official. Government think-tanks will also participate in the consultations. India’s goods and services exports in FY24 were at an all-time high of $778.2 billion, up 0.23% from $776.4 billion in 2022-23.The country has inked trade pacts with Mauritius, the UAE, Australia and European Free Trade Association since 2021.The discussions scheduled this week assume significance as India is negotiating trade pacts with the UK, the EU, Peru, and a comprehensive trade deal with Australia. It is also in talks with the Eurasian Economic Union for a trade agreement.Earlier this week, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said that the FTA with the EU is a difficult one because there are a lot of non-trade issues involved in it.

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