« The overall impact on India`s exports on the partners with whom the agreements were signed is 13.4% for manufactured goods and 10.9% for total products. The overall effects on imports are less significant (12.7% for manufactured goods and 8.6% for total, » he said. Negotiations for a free trade agreement with Korea are progressing rapidly and both sides hope to conclude the agreement before the end of the year. The other proposed agreements are Malaysia and Indonesia. 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. Swadeshi Jagran Manch, close to the RSS, did not speak out in favour of multilateral trade agreements. Instead, it was said that India should focus on strengthening the atmanirbhar India board. It is important that the 2019-20 economic survey indicates that free trade agreements have generally been beneficial for India.
Between 1993 and 2018, India`s exports of manufactured goods increased by an average of 13.4% for the partners with whom it entered into trade agreements, and those imports increased by 12.7%, it is claimed. In comparison, total exports of goods increased by 10.9% on average during this period and imports by 8.6%. But when the eruption of Covid-19 forced governments around the world to focus on managing the unprecedented health and economic crisis, New Delhi also used much of its apparatus for this purpose. Given that the pandemic can potentially change the course of world trade (if anti-Chinese sentiments increase), it is useful for India to wait and grasp the realities after the co-revision in the negotiations, analysts say. One of the main reasons why India has not lost in its traditional markets such as the United States and the EU is the number of trade complementarities with these partner countries. Major U.S. imports from around the world include, for example, machinery, mineral fuels, pharmaceuticals, organic chemicals, gems and jewelry, furniture, etc., which are also India`s main export products. The attempt to promote free trade while promoting protectionism under the guise of « atmanirbhar Bharat? ». You can`t have your cake and eat it! Either you open up to trade or you don`t. A comprehensive analysis of trade between India and its key free trade partners, discussed above, shows a significant increase in trade since the agreements came into force. SAFTA came into force on 1 January 2006 and, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, bilateral trade between India and other SAFTA member states increased from $6.8 billion in 2005-06 to $28.5 billion in 2018-19.
India`s trade with SAFTA grew faster than its overall trade with the world. As a result, SAFTA`s share of India`s international trade increased from 1.6% in 2005-06 to 2.5% in 2018-19. At the same time, Indian exports to SAFTA countries grew faster than their imports from them, resulting in a significant increase in the trade surplus with these economies from about $4 billion to $21 billion. The maximum growth in exports to the SAFTA REGION was recorded with Bangladesh and Nepal. Following the exit of the China-dominated Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement last November, New Delhi decided to intensify discussions on a series of « balanced and fair » trade pacts, in contrast to previous free trade agreements that « aggravated India`s trade deficit. »