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'India constantly enhancing trade ties with partners'

India has been constantly enhancing its trade partnership with a number of countries and regions, including Russia, Costa Rica, Commonwealth Nations, and West Asia- GCC, said Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry D. Purandeswari.

"It is the constant endeavor of the Government to enhance trade with our trade partners  for mutual benefit.  In this context, India has taken various initiatives like Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreements (CECA), Free Trade Agreements (FTA) Preferential Trade Agreements (PTA)  etc. with various countries,"  said Purandeswari in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

India and Russia have agreed to achieve the Bilateral trade figure target  of US$ 20 billion by 2015. Similarly,  India and Canada have a shared desire to see the bilateral trade reach to US$ 15 billion by 2015.

A MoU has been signed between India and Costa Rica on 15th April, 2013 on economic cooperation between the two countries. 

India has signed 10 FTAs and 5 PTAs, which are already in force, and negotiating 17 FTAs, including review/expansion of some of the existing FTAs/PTAs.  

In addition to these FTAs/PTAs, India is participating in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) negotiations amongst the Association of South East Asia Nations (ASEAN) Member States and its six FTA Partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).  

The RCEP will cover trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, dispute settlement and other issues.

India's export to Russia, West Asia- GCC, Costa Rica, and Commonwealth Nations in the Apr 2012-February 2013 period stood at $2.1 billion, $65.7 million, $45.5 billion, and $57.1 billion, respectively.

Replying to another query on development of he Doha Round of Talks, the minister said hat efforts are being made to build consensus around a package for an early outcome during the Ninth Ministerial Conference of the WTO (MC9) to be held in Bali, Indonesia in December 2013. 

The package being negotiated includes Trade Facilitation, some agricultural issues including Food Security, some issues relating to LDCs etc.

The minister revealed that some developed Members, including the US have objected a proposal tabled by developing countries related to food security, while pressing for an early agreement on Trade Facilitation.

"The US is also blocking a package for the LDCs which include duty free quota free (DFQF) access and elimination of cotton subsidies. India, along with the other developing countries and the LDCs, are working for finalization of a package that is balanced and development-oriented in keeping with the mandate of the Doha Development Agenda," said Purandeswari.