India will be launching negotiations for a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA) with Mercosur although it will first “expedite” talks for a preferential trade agreement with the South African Customs Union (SACU).
“We are planning to have a CECA with Mercosur. With the conclusion of these deals, we will complete the IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa) triangle” Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters on the sidelines of the ‘India Show’ organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
Minister Sharma added that SACU and Mercosur already have trade agreement and “we are looking at completing the talks to have a PTA with SACU expeditiously. SACU countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland) are fully sensitive to the need and urgency to have this agreement concluded”.
Sharma said he would also explore the possibility to have a trilateral trade agreement between India, SACU and MERCOSUR. “This would help Africa emerge as a shipping hub, connecting South Asia and Latin America,” Sharma said.
India and MERCOSUR would set up a joint study group (JSG) to determine the feasibility of having CECA between them which had been given a mandate to prepare the report in the next one year. India and MERCOSUR signed a PTA on January 25, 2004, which came into effect in June 2009. Now both sides want to take the relationship to the next level.
“The JSG have been asked to come out with a report within the next one year. It can be sooner. We will fast track the talks,” Sharma added.
In order to boost exports from Africa, India announced a duty-free tariff preference scheme (DFTP) for 33 least developed countries (LDC) in Africa, which covers 94 per cent of India’s total tariff lines.
In order to boost South-South trade, India, SACU and MERCOSUR are also planning to have a trilateral trade agreement soon, revealed Sharma.