Greater Market Access is likely to be announced at the end of talks between PM Modi and Argentina President Merci

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Updated: February 15, 2019 11:14:54 PM

Bilateral cooperation spans wide range of areas including nuclear, space, economic and commercial, agriculture, science and technology, culture and tourism.

The total Indian investments in Argentina are to the tune of $ 1 billion.

More market access to the MERCOSUR Grouping is expected to be announced during the visit of President of Argentina Mauricio Macri on Monday.

Diplomatic sources have confirmed to the Financial Express Online that, “The two leaders Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of Argentina Macri are expected to discuss the expansion of the India-MERCOSUR preferential trade agreement (PTA) to make greater inroads into the other’s market.”

With both sides keen on increasing and diversifying the trade basket and Argentina keen on playing helping India in its food security, greater market access in line with the demands of both sides, explained a senior officer who shared his view on condition of anonymity.

The grouping comprises of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. Later next month there is an expected visit of Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu to Paraguay where the focus of talks will be fast tracking the negotiations for an expanded India-MERCOSUR PTA.

India and the Mercosur bloc, comprising Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, have stepped up efforts to expand their preferential trade agreement (PTA) to make greater inroads into the other’s market.

The two sides are keen on greater market access, and the group wants lower duties in both industrial and agricultural products.

What is PTA?

It is a limited free trade agreement where partner countries reduce import duties on a few identified products for the other. As has been reported earlier, the PTA between India and Mercosur is presently limited to just 450 products; the two sides have raised their ambitions manifold and are now aiming at providing preferential access to about 3,000 items.

Aan expanded PTA with the Grouping is in line with the government’s objective of trading more with Latin America and diversifying its trade basket beyond the EU and the US. India wants to export processed foods, more engineering goods and a wider range of pharmaceuticals to the MERCOSUR.

Both sides have already exchanged lists of items where each side is seeking greater market — India has exchanged a wish list of 4,836 tariff lines mentioning 8-digit HS codes with MERCOSUR in July 2016 and the MERCOSUR grouping has exchanged their wish list of 3,358 tariff lines.

Under the existing agreement signed in 2009 India has brought down duties in the range of 10 per cent to 100 per cent on 452 items. These include meat products, chemicals, raw hides and skins, leather articles, wool, cotton yarn, glass and glassware, iron and steel, machinery and equipment, optical, photographic and cinematographic apparatus.

As has been reported earlier, Merci is arriving in India on his first State visit from Feb 17-19 at the invitation of Prime Minister Modi.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs the Argentinean leader is accompanied by a high level official delegation including speaker of the Chamber of Deputies,  Emilio Monzo, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Jorge Faurie, Secretary of Modernization Andrés Ibarra, Secretary of Agriculture, Luis Etchevehere, and other senior officials.

The visit is of significance as it is taking place during the 70th year of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between India and Argentina and it closely follows on the heels of the highly successful visit of Modi to Argentina for the G20 last year during which on the sidelines the two leaders had a productive bilateral meeting. This visit will provide an opportunity to the two sides to review progress in bilateral ties and to explore new avenues of cooperation.

Bilateral cooperation spans wide range of areas including nuclear, space, economic and commercial, agriculture, science and technology, culture and tourism. Bilateral trade at present is around $ 3 billion. India exports mainly two wheelers, iron and steel, agro chemicals, yarn, organic chemicals, bulk drugs and drug intermediates and motor vehicles, while Argentina exports to India mainly vegetable oils (soya bean and sunflower), finished leather, cereals, residual chemicals and allied products and pulses. Indian companies have made investments in IT, agro-chemical, pharmaceutical and cosmetic sectors in Argentina. The total Indian investments in Argentina are to the tune of $ 1 billion.

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