Recent Trade Agreements Of India

India`s tactical transition from multilateralism to bilateral engagement came at a crucial time. Even before Covid-19 caused chaos, world trade experienced increased uncertainty. A trade war between the United States and China and a collapse of the WTO appeal system to the WTO had only increased the challenges for India, which had been a strong advocate of the multilateral trading system. In addition, New Delhi wanted to speed up discussions with members of the European Free Trade Association – Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Mr Leichtenstein – on a separate trade pact, in parallel with discussions with the EU. It has also sought to review its existing free trade agreements with Asean, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea in order to reduce its trade deficit with these nations. ASEAN is one of India`s main trading partners. The ECSC with ASEAN came into force on January 1, 2010 and bilateral trade between the two parties increased from about $43 billion in 2009-10 to $97 billion in 2018-19. As with SAFTA`s Indian trade, bilateral trade between India and ASEAN grew faster than India`s total trade with the world, resulting in an increase of 9.4% to 11.5% of ASEAN`s share of Indian world trade. However, unlike India-SAFTA trade, Indian imports from ASEAN grew significantly faster than Indian exports to ASEAN.

Another important point to take into account is that imports from ASEAN grew much faster than Indian imports from the world. The faster growth in imports has led to a significant increase in India`s trade deficit with ASEAN, from less than $8 billion in 2009-10 to about $22 billion in 2018-19. ASEAN`s share of India`s total trade deficit increased from about 7% to 12% over the same period. In addition to the India-ASEAN ECSC, the Indeinem and Korean CEPAs were commissioned from 1 January 2010. In 2009-10 to 2018-19, bilateral trade between the two countries increased from about $12 billion to $21.5 billion and is more or less similar to trade in disinfaction with the world. However, Indian imports from Korea grew much faster than exports to Korea. While Indian imports increased by about 8%, exports to Korea increased by less than 4%. Although imports from Korea grew faster than imports from the world, the growth rate of exports to Korea was much slower than Indian exports to the world. This has resulted in a significant increase in India`s trade deficit with Korea from $5 billion between 2009 and US$10 billion in 2018-19 and a significant increase in Korea`s share of India`s total trade deficit from 4.7% to 6.5% over the same period.

Typically, trade agreements, including the one with the Association of South Asian Nations (Asean), have not worked in India`s favour, but experts felt that New Delhi should not only remain in common with other countries to stimulate trade, but also to be heard within the international community. Foreign Minister Harsh Shringla`s seven-day trip to Europe a few weeks ago is seen as an important development in this direction. On Thursday, the first autonomous summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Xavier Bettel was held via videoconference, the first highlighting the need to expand trade and economic cooperation between India and the EU.