New Delhi : The Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs & Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyal has called upon the ASEAN bloc to do away with Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs). Addressing the “Special Plenary with the Trade Ministers of the Region: Indo-ASEAN Business”, organised by the CII, Goyal also called for “curbing the misuse of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) by third parties, often outside the ASEAN Region.”
“It is unfortunate that in the recent past we had to deal with several restrictive barriers on our exports to the ASEAN region, particularly in the Agriculture & Auto sector. I think these only result in reciprocal action from other countries including from India, and will hurt the long term desire of our leaders to expand trade between the two countries,” said Goyal, in his address through video conference.
Goyal also called upon the ASEAN Bloc to allow reciprocal FTA concessions to imports from India to correct the skewed trade imbalance in favour of the ASEAN.
“India has currently been witnessing exponential growth in imports from the ASEAN Region while our exports have been impeded by non-reciprocity in FTA concessions, NTBs, import regulations, quotas & export taxes from ASEAN countries. Such a review will enable alignment with contemporary trade practices, procedures & regulatory harmonization,” said Goyal.
“Current trade of about $80 Billion makes Indo-ASEAN region one the largest trading areas globally. Despite increasing trade we are short of the target of $200 bn, which India & ASEAN were to achieve by 2022,” he added.
Shri Goyal reiterated the importance for fair, equitable, transparent, reciprocal and inclusive trade rather than enhancing trade through tariff reductions.
“Let me also underscore that if we were to review the ASEAN-India Trade In Goods Agreement (AITIGA), it may truly promote trade on both sides, support industry and manufacturing on both sides and help us support each other to truly become modern, progressive economies,” he said.
This year marks the 25th Anniversary of India-ASEAN partnership. India’s bilateral trade with ASEAN has grown steadily. India’s merchandise exports to ASEAN increased from $ 23 bn in 2010 to $ 30 bn in 2020. While India’s imports from ASEAN have surged from $ 30 bn in 2010 to $ 44 bn in 2020.
Shri Goyal said, under the leadership of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India’s “Look East” policy has transformed into “Act East” policy. In the 17th India-ASEAN Summit, on 12th November, 2020, PM Modi had announced contribution to the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund.
“During COVID-19 pandemic, India has shown its capacity and its capability to the entire world. We not only met all our international service commitments but also became self-sufficient in production of critical medical supplies including PPEs,” he said.
Shri Goyal said India is known as the “Pharmacy of the World” by providing Medicines & Vaccines to all. India will give ASEAN nations full cooperation in generic drugs and vaccine manufacturing to meet their demands. To be Aatmanirbhar, India has announced PLI scheme for supporting critical Bulk Drugs & APIs worth nearly a billion dollars, Pharma Drugs ($ 2 bn) & Medical devices ($ 456 mn).
“We are implementing one of the biggest vaccination drive anywhere in the world, having crossed 930 million vaccine doses so far, soon going to (reach) the 1 billion mark. We expect that in the next few weeks India will have a fully vaccinated adult population and probably in another 3-4 months we would be fully double dose vaccinated across the length and breadth of the country for all willing adults. Our one day record has exceeded 23 million vaccines,” he said.
Shri Goyal said a prosperous ASEAN is central to India’s Vision for Indo-Pacific region with Security And Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).
“With a combined population of 2.1 billion, India & ASEAN countries are home to rapidly growing markets with immense opportunities. By combining our strengths, we can rewrite and make a golden chapter of progress and prosperity for the 30 percent of the world population that reside in ASEAN countries and India,” he said.