More tariff cuts under India-Singapore CECA on anvil

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, December 20: | Updated: Dec 21 2007, 02:40am hrs
India and Singapore have signed a protocol to amend the comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA) between the two countries, an official press release said.

The CECA would be amended to expand the tariff liberalization package within the Trade in Goods Chapter.

With a view to enhance bilateral trade and to strengthen economic relations in various fields, the CECA) between India and Singapore was signed on June 29, 2005 by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. It came into effect from August 1, 2005.

The bilateral trade has shown tremendous growth since then with Indias exports to Singapore during 2005-06 and 2006-07 at $ 5.4 billion and $ 6.02 billion registering a growth of 35.61% and 10.98% respectively and Singapores export to India during 2005-06 and 2006-07 at $ 3.4 billion and $ 5.5 billion registering a growth of 26.49% and 63.10% respectively. India had a positive trade balance of $ 551 million against Singapore in 2006-07.

Singapore had recently made a request for tariff elimination/reduction for certain products. India has now decided to agree to eliminate/reduce tariff on 539 products (at 8-digit HS code) as an additional concession within the existing India-Singapore CECA. Of the 539 tariff lines, tariff elimination is to be achieved in 5 equal cuts between January 15, 2008 and December 1, 2011 for 307 items. These 307 items comprise mainly of articles of base metal, machinery and mechanical appliances, chemicals and textile and textile articles.

For another 97 products, tariff elimination is to be achieved in 9 equal cuts between January 15, 2008 and December 1, 2015. These 97 items comprise mainly of machinery and mechanical appliances, plastic and rubber articles and textile and textile articles. For 135 products, tariff reduction to 5% is to be achieved in 9 equal cuts between January 15, 2008 and December 1, 2015. These items comprise mainly of chemicals, plastic and rubber articles and machinery and mechanical appliances.

Under the existing Trade in Goods Agreement, about 83% value of Indias imports from Singapore are covered under products for which tariff is being eliminated or reduced. After the proposed additional tariff concessions, this coverage would go up to about 93%. It has also been decided to extend, under India-Singapore CECA, additional concessions that India may offer under ASEAN-India FTA in Goods in terms of product coverage, time-line, Rules of Origin, with appropriate amendments to India- Singapore CECA.