The government is reviewing the continuation of the free trade agreement (FTA) with Asean in the wake of the trading bloc’s reluctance to address India’s concerns over what it believes are asymmetries in the decade-old treaty.The government’s main grouse is the rising trade deficit with the 10-country grouping, many of which is seen to be Chinese goods that are routed via some of the Asean members.The government is looking to revamp its strategy on FTAs with finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman too hinting at it. “Reciprocal arrangements are being asked with the countries with which we have opened up our markets. Reciprocity is a very critical point in our trade negotiations.
The Narendra Modi government has blamed the trade arrangements worked out by the UPA for a large part of the problem of trade deficit, arguing that the agreements with Asean, South Korea and Japan were signed in haste and India’s interests were not adequately protected.