The Cabinet on Monday approved the exchange of tariff concessions under the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), which will enable Indian exporters to get greater market access in sectors, including textiles and pharma, in countries such as China and Korea.
Briefing reporters after the Cabinet meeting, commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman said countries like China and Korea have also offered greater access in areas like chemicals, heavy engineering machine tools, gems and jewellery, iron and steel, agri and marine products.
For its part, India is offering import duty concessions for 28.01% of tariff lines (products) for other APTA members. The duties applicable on these items will be lower by an average of 33.45% than the MFN rates applicable for imports from other countries outside the APTA bloc. Currently, the tariff concessions are limited to just 570 items and the duties applicable on these products are lower by an average of only 23.9% than the MFN rates.
India would offer greater market access to other members in areas like railway locomotives, rolling stock, nuclear plants, fissile material, aircraft and spacecrafts. These are the items which are procured only by the government agencies in India. However, APTA being a preferential trade agreement, nothing will come into the country at zero duty and the import duty would be around 7%.
The decisions on tariff concessions for various nations will be implemented formally after the fourth session of the ministerial council of APTA, scheduled to be held in January 2017.
APTA is an initiative under the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific for trade expansion through exchange of tariff concessions among developing nations of the Asia Pacific region.
Until now, three rounds of APTA negotiations have taken place and the latest offers are part of the fourth round. Since this is a preferential trade agreement, the basket of items as well as extent of tariff concessions are enlarged during the trade negotiating rounds which are launched from time to time.
The Cabinet’s approval was also given to amend the preamble of APTA to effect accession of Mongolia as the seventh participating state, according to an official statement.
The minister said the latest decisions were agreed upon by the APTA members after several rounds of talks. The third round was held sometime in 2001.