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Pharmexcil asks member cos to provide inputs to review AITIGA Pact for tariff liberalization in pharma sector

Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai
Tuesday, June 11, 2024, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

In a significant development, India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have initiated negotiations to review the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA), which was originally signed in August 2009. The Union ministry of commerce is leading these efforts, with a specific focus on tariff liberalization in the pharmaceutical sector and addressing other trade-related issues.

The Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil) is actively involved in this process and has urged member companies to provide input on the challenges they face in ASEAN markets. Uday Bhaskar, director general (DG) of Pharmexcil, emphasized the importance of this initiative. "The review of AITIGA is a crucial opportunity for our pharma exporters. By addressing tariff and non-tariff barriers, we can significantly enhance our trade relationships with ASEAN countries," Bhaskar stated.

A key component of this review is a meeting convened by the Union ministry of commerce to discuss tariff liberalization for the pharmaceutical sector. This meeting aims to gather insights and issues from Indian pharma exporters to effectively negotiate with the ASEAN working group.

Pharmexcil has circulated a form for member companies to share their experiences and challenges related to tariff and non-tariff barriers within ASEAN countries. "We encourage all member exporters to actively participate and share their specific issues. This input is vital for the commerce ministry to advocate effectively on behalf of our industry," Bhaskar added.

The insights gathered will be instrumental in shaping India's negotiation strategy and ensuring that the interests of the Indian pharmaceutical sector are adequately represented. By addressing these barriers, the aim is to facilitate smoother trade flows and improve market access for Indian pharma products in ASEAN countries.

The AITIGA has been a cornerstone of economic relations between India and ASEAN, fostering increased trade and investment. However, industry stakeholders have highlighted several challenges that need to be addressed to fully realize the agreement's potential. These include high tariffs, complex regulatory requirements, and other non-tariff barriers that hinder trade.

The upcoming review and negotiations present a timely opportunity to revisit these issues and seek more favourable terms for Indian exporters. As the pharma sector is a significant contributor to India's exports, ensuring its competitiveness in ASEAN markets is of paramount importance.

“Pharmexcil and the Union ministry of commerce are committed to ensuring that the review process of AITIGA results in tangible benefits for Indian exporters. The active participation of member companies in providing feedback will play a critical role in achieving these goals,” Bhaskar added.

The third meeting of AITIGA Joint Committee for undertaking the review of AITIGA was hosted by India in Vanijya Bhawan, New Delhi between February 16 and 19, 2024. The meeting was co-chaired by Rajesh Agrawal, additional secretary, Department of Commerce, ministry of commerce and industry, India and Mastura Ahmad Mustafa, deputy secretary General (Trade), Ministry of Investment, Trade & Industry, Malaysia.

Delegates from ASEAN countries viz. Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand & Vietnam participated in the meeting.

The AITIGA was signed in 2009.  In September 2022, both sides tasked the AITIGA Joint Committee to undertake the review with the aim of making the Agreement more trade facilitative and mutually beneficial.

India-ASEAN trade has grown to USD 131.58 billion in 2022-23. The review of AITIGA will facilitate further expansion of trade between India and ASEAN in a balanced and sustainable manner. Both sides are aiming to conclude the review in 2025.

 




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