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As a leading shipping and logistics company in India, Abhyansh is committed to understanding and navigating the evolving landscape of global trade. The recent Chintan Shivir on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Strategy and Standard Operating Procedures (SoP) for Trade Negotiations, organized by the Department of Commerce in collaboration with the Centre for Trade and Investment Law (CTIL) and the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, offered profound insights into India’s strategic direction in trade negotiations.

A Holistic Approach to FTA Negotiations

The two-day event, held in Rajasthan, facilitated in-depth discussions on various aspects of FTA negotiations. Senior government officials, esteemed national and international experts, academicians, and seasoned legal professionals gathered to deliberate on India’s position and strategy in FTA negotiations. The event was spearheaded by Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal, who emphasized the need for a strategic course for India’s future engagement in FTAs.

Key Themes and Discussions

The Chintan Shivir unfolded across six dynamic sessions and one roundtable, each delving into critical themes:

  1. Economic Assessment and Modelling of FTAs: Evaluating the economic impact and benefits of FTAs.
  2. Addressing New Disciplines in FTAs: Incorporating modern issues such as labour, environment, gender, and indigenous peoples.
  3. Services and Digital Trade in FTAs: Expanding the scope of FTAs to include services and digital trade.
  4. Standard Operating Procedures for FTA Negotiations: Establishing robust SoPs, including stakeholder consultations.
  5. Capacity Building and FTA Resource Management: Enhancing the skills and resources required for effective trade negotiations.
  6. Leveraging India’s FTAs: Utilizing existing FTAs to address emerging areas like AI, critical minerals, and the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM).

Balancing Geopolitics and Geoeconomics

One of the highlights of the event was the roundtable discussion with former secretaries and ambassadors on FTA strategy. The discussion emphasized the need to balance geopolitics and geoeconomics, ensuring that regional trade agreements complement multilateral efforts. The roundtable also underscored the importance of integrating non-trade issues, such as Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD), into FTA negotiations to foster value chain development and market access.

Stakeholder Consultations and Realistic Goals

Effective stakeholder consultations were identified as crucial for setting realistic and attainable goals in FTA negotiations. A balanced approach to trade and industrial policies was highlighted as essential for optimizing trade negotiations and outcomes.

Conclusion: Charting the Future of India’s Trade

The Chintan Shivir concluded with a wrap-up session and special remarks by Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal and Additional Secretary, Department of Commerce, Rajesh Agrawal. The event provided valuable suggestions for formulating India’s FTA strategies and adopting standard operating procedures to enhance India’s FTA preparedness.

At Abhyansh, we recognize the significance of these discussions in shaping the future of India’s trade policies. As we continue to navigate the complexities of global trade, we remain committed to leveraging these insights to provide reliable and efficient shipping and logistics solutions for our clients.

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