Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal called for a services trade agreement among friendly nations of the Indo-Pacific region as it can help liberalise domestic regulations and build capacity in sectors like e-commerce and IT. Speaking at special plenary with the trade ministers of the Indo-Pacific region, Goyal said India’s trade with select Indo-Pacific economies increased to $ 262 billion in 2020 from $ 33 billion in 2001.
However, he said, non-tariff measures act as major trade barriers in the region. “Given the prospects of services trade, an Indo-Pacific wide services trade agreement should also be considered amongst friendly nations. It can help liberalise domestic regulations and build capacity on e-commerce and IT-enabled services and other areas such as Artificial Intelligence,” he said.
He also invited businesses of the region to avail incentives under India’s production-linked investment schemes, which cover 13 sectors and aim at creating global manufacturing champions. He further said trade facilitation can ease the cross-border movement of goods.
India’s key exports to the region include petroleum, diamonds, medicines and light vessels. Its imports comprise coal, petroleum, palm oil, and telecom equipment. Goyal said India has taken several measures, resulting in the simplification and rationalisation of many existing rules and regulations.
Further, the minister said the supply chain resilience initiative launched in September 2020 by trade ministers from India, Australia and Japan is a firm step towards building resilient supply chains.
“We hope to be able to invite other countries to join us in this very important initiative,” Goyal said. “Our economic future in the Indo-Pacific region will largely be defined by our capacity to build on blue economy potential, regional economic integration and improving connectivity to promote regional trade.” Indo-Pacific region countries include Sri Lanka, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Fiji, India, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, New Zealand and Singapore.