No decision on FTA with China without wide consultations: Govt

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New Delhi, Apr 23 (UNI) Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jairam Ramesh today said no decision on establishing a free trade agreement with China would be taken without widespread consultations.

In a reply in the Rajya Sabha during Question Hour, Mr Ramesh said that right now, an FTA with China was not a matter of priority.

In reply to a supplmentary, the Minister said the Government's decision to have FTAs was in keeping with the international trend.

''The Indian Government's policy is to have a multilateral trade agreement under the aegis of the World Trade Organisation.

Since that is a long drawn process, we are, in the meantime establishing FTAs with other countries,''Mr Ramesh said.

He said at present India had FTAs with six countries while those with two others were being negotiated.

Among those with whom the country has FTAs are Sri Lanka, SAFTA, Nepal, Bhutan and Singapore. FTAs with ASEAN and Mauritius were being negotiated.

At the same time, the Minister said the government would continue to pursue multilateral agreements with other countries even as it forged FTAs with them.

On the contention of some members that in many cases, having FTAs with other countries was proving detrimental to India, Mr Ramesh said,''at any time if we find that the FTAs are not working in the interest of trade, we will take corrective measures.'' On a question on whether the Government proposed to continue to grant most favoured nation status to Pakistan despite it not reciprocating, Mr Ramesh said,'' granting of MFN status is under the WTO regime. In this context, Pakistan not granting India MFN status despite India granting it to the neighbouring country, is a clear violation of International law.

''At the same time, we do not intend to withdraw the MFN status given to Pakistan and will continue to pursue with the neighbouring country the granting of MFN status to India.'' He said carrying on trade relations with Pakistan was in India's interest as ''we have a huge trade surplus with Pakistan''.

UNI AR RR BD1358

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