Dr Mahendra Agnihotri
NEW DELHI: In a bid to enhance its economic footprint, India is reorienting its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) focus towards the West with an array of negotiations underway.
The year 2023 has seen India engage in the 13th round of FTA talks with the UK, marking a significant progression in a deal that promises to unlock new avenues for trade in goods, services, and investments.
Technical discussions have been rigorous, with Indian officials shuttling between London and Delhi to refine the treaty’s text.
The strategic shift is not just limited to the UK; India is also closing in on a landmark FTA with Oman, with negotiations progressing swiftly. The move indicates India’s intent to cement stronger trade ties with Middle Eastern countries, enhancing its role in regional economic dynamics.
Despite challenges, India inked one FTA in 2023, with aspirations to seal three, underscoring the Modi Government’s commitment to bolstering trade relationships. The engagements are in line with India’s broader 2024-25 vision to establish FTAs with all major economies, barring China.
This includes ongoing negotiations with powerhouse economies like the US, EU, Switzerland, Norway, and Russia.
India’s past FTAs with Asean, South Korea, and Japan laid the groundwork for the current expansionary phase. Yet, there’s a conscious recalibration from India’s traditional eastern-aligned trade policy to a more global outlook, aimed at mitigating trade deficits and boosting exports.
The Foreign Secretary’s confirmation of progress with Oman further emphasizes India’s accelerated pace in these trade negotiations. If successful, these FTAs will likely redefine India’s economic landscape, ensuring a broader market access and a diversified trade portfolio.
As India manoeuvers through the complexities of global trade, its western pivot is poised to open new doors for economic growth and stability.