Trade and connectivity is the key for better engagement with neighbours. Discuss this in context of India and South Asia. Also examine the opportunities and challenges in this region.

In the era of Nation States; trade is the key point for dialogue. The rise of regional trade agreement such as RCEP, TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) are challenging the WTO & its ‘Most favoured Nations’ clauses & policies.

Challenges:

  1. RCEP trade deal has been conducted without India.
    • It makes tougher for our exporters.
    • Lack of competition in domestic market.
    • Economic survey of K. Subramania says it was a reasonable deal & we must shed our ‘big-but-poor’ mentality & take part in give & take.
  2. Many countries impose unfair trade practices such as Dumping, Counter-vailing duties, high tariffs, inverted duty structure & have less regard for IPR.
  3. Currency manipulation by China affects the competitiveness of our exports.
  4. SAFTA has proved to be a failure. Most nations do not uphold their bargains.
  5. Pak-India relations strained due to state-sponsored terrorism, thus cross-border trade affected.

Opportunities:

  • Engagement needs to be increased with Afghanistan after the rise of Taliban.
  • Try to negotiate with ASEAN & RCEP countries and enter the regional trade agreements.
  • Recently Motihari-Nepal gas pipeline started. Similarly, Cooch Behar to Dhaka railway restarted after 50 years.
  • Surplus electricity & exchanges transfer must be promoted.
  • Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) motor vehicle agreement to promote the international connectivity.

Way forward:

A pragmatic approach is the need of the hour, which would ensure prosperity for all.

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