India for expanding trade ties with S American countries

New Delhi: With the government aiming at USD 500 billion exports in the next three years, India has called for widening of its trade agreement with MERCOSUR bloc comprising Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

“It is important that the leaders on both sides (India and MERCOSUR) proactively take steps to expedite completion of the process for expansion of the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA),” an official statement quoted Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is visiting Latin America, as saying.

Addressing business delegates in Uruguay yesterday, Mr. Scindia highlighted the bilateral opportunities available between the two countries.

“There is tremendous possibility for bilateral cooperation (between India and Uruguay) and we need to deepen engagement at the institutional level and expand the strategic relationship,” he said.

He also stressed that the two countries should increase their bilateral trade to USD 1 billion from the current USD 110 million.

Mr. Scindia further said Double Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) and Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPA) between the two countries are critical to expand economic relations.

The government is targeting African and Latin American countries to increase exports and is also providing certain fiscal sops to exporters to explore these markets.

India’s exports to MERCOSUR bloc during April-September were estimated at USD 2.25 billion while imports too were in the same region.

India-MERCOSUR PTA came into effect from June 1, 2009.

The major sectors covered in the offer list of India under the PTA include meat, chemicals, leather goods, iron and steel products, machinery items and electrical machinery.

As per the agreement between India and MERCOSUR, the two sides agreed to create conditions and mechanisms for negotiations by granting reciprocal tariff preferences. In the second stage, they aim to negotiate a free trade area between the two parties.