India Singapore Fta: Implications For India

2303 words - 10 pages

Introduction:I.R. Mehra, executive director of the Indian Vanaspati Producers Association, said the industry has had to cope with the entry of Vanaspati from Nepal, which under the terms of a bilateral deal has been allowed to export up to 100,000 metric tons of the palm oil-based product duty free each year for some time now. Vanaspati is a hydrogenated form of palm oil that is a popular cooking fat in India. Crude palm oil, the main ingredient for Vanaspati, carries an import duty of 80% in India while various forms of refined palm oils carry duties of 90%.The contrasting tax regimes have meant that ultimately, duty-free Vanaspati imports from Nepal have been far cheaper than those ...view middle of the document...

5% per annum. India and Singapore are mutually important economic partners. Singapore is India's most important trading partner amongst the ASEAN countries and also India's gateway to ASEAN and China. It is India's largest export partner and the second largest source of imports from ASEAN. (http://globalis.gvu.unu.edu/)Free Trade Agreement:A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is a legally binding agreement between two or more countries that brings about closer economic integration. Under an FTA, member countries provide each other favorable treatment for goods, services and investment.The aim of a free trade area is to so reduce barriers to easy exchange that trade can grow as a result of specialization, division of labour, and most importantly via comparative advantage. The theory argues that the net result will be an increase in income and ultimately wealth and well-being for everyone in the free trade area.With the signing of the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) in August 2005, both countries are poised to enjoy deeper bilateral ties with an increase in trade, investment cooperation and the movement of talent and ideas. A landmark agreement in itself for India, it is also the first comprehensive economic pact between Singapore and South Asian countries. Under the free trade agreement (FTA) on goods, which is part of the CECA, import tariffs on items in the phased elimination list are to be eliminated in five stages leading up to zero tariffs from April 1, 2009. The CECA also amends the existing double taxation avoidance agreement between India and Singapore. The CECA is a comprehensive agreement with a scope that exceeds any of India's FTAs at present (with Srilanka and Thailand). Singapore is India's 7th largest inward investor country and has invested $1482.7 million till July 2006 alone. In turn India is Singapore's 13th largest and fastest growing trade partner, outstripping even China. Singapore is 13th largest import source and 13th largest export destination. . (Mehta, 2005)FTA and WTO:Article 8(b) of GATT, which requires coverage of substantially all trade for FTAs to be consistent with WTO rules. As a general principle, tariff reduction/ elimination in the CECA will be ahead of India's other commitments, including the reduction of peak tariffs to East Asian levels by 2005 and India's WTO commitments. The past FTAs were regarded as precursors to inward-oriented economic blocs, and therefore stumbling blocks to the WTO but these attitudes are now changing. No FTAs can afford to be inward looking, because globalization has made markets much more inter-linked and inter-dependent. We also recognize that FTAs which are WTO-consistent (i.e., comply with the WTO rules governing the formation of free trade agreements), cover substantially all trade in goods and have substantial sectoral coverage of services, can have a positive effect on global trade liberalizationCurrent Scenario:The existing CECA focus mainly on...

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