Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia clarifies:
In the report “Free Trade Agreement will benefit India: Scindia” published in The Hindu on September 24, the lead sentence, “Concern over the domestic economy should not result in barriers on free trade, according to Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Jyotiraditya Scindia” related to the issue of protectionism worldwide in the context of the global recession.
Mr. Scindia said that in the Free Trade Agreement entered into with the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean), the Government of India had ensured that the interests of labour intensive industries and farmers were completely protected.
In the first place, 489 items were excluded from the list of tariff concessions and 590 items were excluded from the list of tariff elimination.
Secondly, cashew and rubber had been put on the negative list, and there would be no impact on them at all.
Thirdly, lowering of duties would not have an adverse impact. In the case of coffee and tea the reduction was from 100 to 45 per cent. For refined palm oil, the duty was to be lowered from 90 to 45 per cent, but the applied rate currently was only 7.5 per cent. In the case of crude palm oil, the rate was to be reduced from 80 to 37.5 per cent, but the current applied rate was 0 per cent. All these reductions were to take place over the next 10 to 15 years.
Fourthly, additional protective measures had been put in place. These include safeguard duties; rules of origin that require that there should be a value addition of at least 35 per cent in the exporting country; and the fact that there was no early harvest programme but the concessions would be backloaded.