'India should aim to reach TPP free trade standards'
India should take the trade facilitation standards being negotiated in the free trade arrangement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as an objective to be attained, a top commerce ministry official said here Tuesday.
"I don't think we should be overly anxious in not joining TPP, but we should be anxious in taking TPP standards as an objective over a period of time," Commerce Secretary Rajiv Kher said at a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)-organised conference on the impact of TPP.
It is a regional free trade agreement being negotiated by 12 countries across the Asia-Pacific region -- Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US, and Vietnam.
The proposed accord would cover nearly 40 percent of global economic output and one-third of all world trade. Passage of the TPP is one of the primary goals of the current US administration's trade agenda.
The TPP intends to enhance trade and investment among the partner countries, promote innovation, economic growth and development, but globally there has been criticism of the negotiations, largely because of the proceedings' secrecy and the agreement's widespread scope.
"There is a world outside of TPP and we need to strengthen our relationship with them," Kher said indicating groupings like the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and areas like Africa, Latin America and Middle East with which India was not trading enough.
"Latin America gets only 3.3 percent of our exports and we need to look whether we are trading enough with BRICS countries and with Africa," he added.
Most of all, Kher felt, TPP should be regarded as a challenge because it offers an opportunity to India to raise its standards and trading competitiveness.
TPP's true potential depends on each member-country making the adjustments necessary to make it the gold standard of trade agreements.
"TPP is a challenge. It offers opportunities to higher paradigms of processes, competitiveness and trade," the commerce secretary said.
"We need domestic reforms to be competitive. If we have a standards roadmap, it will help achieve gold standards," he added.
(Posted on 12-08-2014)