Piyush Goyal pitches for Indo-Pacific wide services trade agreement

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday called for a services trade agreement among friendly nations of the Indo-Pacific region aimed at liberalising domestic regulations and building capacity in sectors like e-commerce and IT enabled services.

“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,” Goyal said at the India Pacific Business Summit was organised by industry chamber Confederation of Indian Industry, but added that non-tariff measures act as major trade barriers in the region.

Goyal said that the abundance of trade agreements in Indo-Pacific has led to a decline in tariff rates over time

The Indo-Pacific region comprises Sri Lanka, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Fiji, India, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, New Zealand and Singapore.

He further said that trade facilitation can ease the cross-border movement of goods.

India’s trade with select Indo-Pacific economies increased to $262 billion in 2020 from $33 billion in 2001, he said. India’s key exports to the region include petroleum, diamonds, medicines and light vessels. Its imports comprise coal, petroleum, palm oil, and telecom equipment.

On the supply chain resilience initiative launched last year by India, Australia and Japan, Goyal said it 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. 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,” he said.

Inviting 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, Goyal said that the country has taken several measures, resulting in the simplification and rationalisation of many existing rules and regulations.

As per the Asian Development Bank, the region is only meeting half of what is needed annually for infrastructure investment to maintain growth. The vast Indo-Pacific region comprises 44% of world surface area and accounts for 62% of global GDP, with more than 50% of global trade traversing through its waters.

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