With the US in advanced stages of negotiating the trans Pacific and Atlantic trade pacts, India on Monday strongly refuted the impression that it is being left out of key global trade agreements.
"If you (are) looking at India being left out. That’s not really true," Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told a Washington audience when asked about India not being part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
"We are very actively engaged in ARSEP (ASEAN Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) which consists of ASEAN and ASEAN FTA countries. So we actually in ARSEP are moving faster along with other members," Sitharaman said during a panel discussion on India-US economic ties organised by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a top American think tank.
She said India believes in multilateralism.
"We strongly believe that WTO has a very big role to play. Of course it emphasises on collective decision making.
It emphasises on unanimity in decision making and most of the decisions are taken in a transparent negotiated way," she noted.
"Nevertheless we also have several regional plurilateral negotiations which are going on," Sitharaman said and referred to ARSEP in this regard.
"I am not sure, what sense of India being left out prevails in this town. It is completely baseless. I would want that sense to be out. We are not lost here," she said.
"We are part of ARSEP and ARSEP certainly includes many countries which are part of TPP and trans-Atlantic. We are engaging ARSEP. In the WTO, where we invest a lot of our trust and faith, we still think it has a big role to play and that is the only way in which trade and development related issues can be discussed," Sitharaman said.
"I am not sitting on a judgement of pluralistic or mega partnerships, which we are talking, but most of them do attempt to focus on standardisations, homogeneity and harmonisation. Looking at WTO, it still has a role to play in terms of tariffs related issues. It has still a basket, or it consists of countries that are developed, developing and less developed and therefore the voices of the world can be heard there," Sitharaman said.