Dr Arvind Panagariya, Former Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, said that despite the ongoing trade wars, the global trading system still holds. Looking at the bigger perspective he also said that India has to focus on increasing its share in global merchandise trade from its current levels. He was speaking at the session on Future of World Trade at the CII Annual Session 2019 with the theme of India 50.: India@75 and Beyond.
Dr Panagariya stressed that India must continue the liberalization of its top tariff rates, which has stalled in the past ten years and not revert back to import substitution. He added that India must conclude its ongoing FTA negotiations with EU (the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (RCEP). RCEP gives India an opportunity to undertake economic reforms and slot into global value chains, and can help in increasing India’s exports to China.
Dr Harsha Vardhana Singh, former Deputy Director General, World Trade Organization (WTO) said that increasingly tariffs are being used for purposes other than trade policy and that the WTO should rise to such challenges. He added that at the WTO among many member countries, there is a trend gravitating towards plurilateral agreements instead of relying on the consensus based approach involving the entire WTO membership. India should be a part of the multilateral agreements and explore flexibilities within the same. He also said that trade policy must look at a value chain approach and focus on specific initiatives to facilitate trade.
Dr Rajeev Kher, Distinguished Fellow, Research and Information System for Developing Countries observed that trade policy is increasingly being used as a geostrategic tool. In this current environment, it is not possible for the WTO to function properly. Touching upon India’s position in trade negotiations, he said that it should be open to engaging in plurilateral negotiations in the WTO. He added that India should focus on joining new coalitions and develop a stance that serves its own interests.
In his opening remarks, Dr Naushad Forbes, Past President, CII and Co Chairman Forbes Marshall Pvt Ltd said that the global trading system is going through a lot of uncertainty due to the trade wars, BREXIT and problems at the WTO. He added that changes in technology are also affecting international trade.
5 April 2019