The Government of India as well as the governments of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) member countries have decided to launch negotiations for an India-EAEU free trade agreement (FTA) shortly, said Mr. Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry. He was speaking at a session on 'Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) – India: A Strategic Partnership' being organized as a part of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The Secretary observed that India’s trade with the EAEU Region is barely USD 8.4 billion and this is well below potential. It is for this reason that India and the EAEU had decided to set up a Joint Feasibility Study Group on the India – EAEU FTA at SPIEF in 2015. This report has since been finalized and accepted by the Government of India and governments of the individual EAEU countries following which negotiations on the FTA are to be launched.
He stated there was a need to promote connectivity between India and the EAEU region and the International North South Transport Corridor would be extremely critical for this purpose. Mr. Abhishek also highlighted the role being played by the “Green Corridor” in promoting trade facilitation between India and Russia. He felt that this Corridor could be extended to the other EAEU countries in due course.
Speaking at the session, Ms. Veronika Nikishina, Minister for Trade, Eurasian Economic Commission, stated that the EAEU has so far only concluded one FTA with Vietnam and India would be the second. This demonstrates the importance being placed on India by the EAEU.
Ms. Shobana Kamineni, President, CII, noted that a strong FTA between India and the EAEU will help strengthen the India – EAEU strategic Partnership.
Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII, stated that the potential India EAEU FTA is just one part of the strategic partnership. It will provide a foundation for further deepening of ties between India and members of the EAEU.
Panelists at the session highlighted the opportunities that would open up in areas such as infrastructure development, energy, pharmaceuticals, banking and finance, IT and transportation among others.