NEW DELHI: India should play a proactive role in promoting open global markets to fill vacuum in the international leadership, The Economic Survey today said.
At a time of a possible resurgence of protectionist pressures and India’s need for open markets abroad to underpin rapid economic growth domestically, it is increasingly clear that India and other emerging market economies must play a more proactive role in ensuring open global markets, the survey said.
“A vacuum in international trade leadership is being created which must be filled with voices and influences such as India’s that favour open markets. This will, of course, require that India also be more willing to liberalise its own markets, a greater openness to its own openness,” it said.
The environment for global trade policy “has probably” undergone a paradigm shift in the aftermath of Brexit and the US elections, the survey added.
In June last year, the WTO had expressed concerns over the spurt in number of trade restrictive measures by G20 economies, saying it could have a chilling effect on trade flows.
Further, it said with the likely US retreat from regional initiatives such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Asia and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the EU, “India could proactively work for reviving the WTO and multilateralism more broadly”.
TPP and TTIP are two major mega trade deals. Trade experts have expressed apprehensions that implementation of these could reduce the relevance of global trade body – WTO.
The survey also stated that to promote labor-intensive exports, India could more proactively seek to negotiate free trade agreements (FTAs) with the UK and Europe.
India is already negotiating a free trade pact with the EU but the talks are stalled over differences on issues related to duty cut on certain goods and opening of services sector. On the other hand, UK has expressed interest in negotiating a pact with India.
“The potential gains for export and employment growth are substantial. Based on work initiated in last year’s Survey, we calculate additional USD 3 billion in the apparel and leather and footwear sectors and additional employment of 1.5 lakhs,” it added.