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New regional free trade blocs will help boost exports : Rajeev Kher, Union Commerce Secretary

Date 24-March-2014
Subject New regional free trade blocs will help boost exports : Rajeev Kher, Union Commerce Secretary

KOLKATA : Pluralistic free trade configuration like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) could shape India’s direction in the changing global trade relations.

RCEP, one of the largest trade bloc in the world, comprising all 10 ASEAN nations and the 6 other countries including India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, was compatible in pursuing individual member country’s interest as well as mutual trading goals, Rajeev Kher, Union Commerce Secretary, said.

Elaborating on the “context” of forthcoming foreign trade policy (2014-2019), the Commerce Secretary said: “We are not in the 13-member Trans-Pacific Partnership”

In the backdrop of emergence of two competing free trade blocs, India’s proximity to RCEP is significant, TPP is favoured by the US.

Kher said Africa had huge potential and those into merchandise exports should cash in on this opportunity. China was also a huge market while new opportunities were coming up in southeast Asian countries.

He also mentioned some forward-looking markets like Peru, Colombia and Chile while saying that countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were ignored by Indian exporters.

On the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), he said India was not prepared at this stage to handle it as countries like Malaysia, Vietnam would have preference at India's cost.

Kher said Indian exporters must diversify from traditional markets like European Union and USA to handle trade shocks and ensure long-term sustainability.

Kher pointed out India was simultaneously in negotiations with EU for a free trade agreement. He said national interest was the guiding force behind the changing paradigm in the global trading arena. The new trade policy, which has been prepared for adoption by the forthcoming government at the Centre, would be mindful of intellectual property rights, public good, uniform quality standards for domestic and export markets, sound trade financing system, embedded service, branding and compositeness of merchandise and services. The draft policy paper has identified new services exports other than IT and ITES, which currently contributes 90 per cent of the sector’s basket. Project exports, tourism, healthcare and logistics are among the identified thrust areas.

India could explore composite exports of interlinked product and services such as pharmaceuticals and healthcare services, he said.

“The Indian yarn export to Bangladesh and import of readymade garments from the neighbour is an example in creating regional value chain. The opening up of two-way trade between India and Pakistan in agricultural commodities and agro-processing could be an extension of the experiment,” the Commerce Secretary added.

Source :

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