Monday, January 09, 2012

Udon in India's Spaghetti Bowl

In the spaghetti bowl of international trade agreements, India's plate seems to be garnised very 'comprehensively'. We have comprehensive partnerships, comprehensive cooperation, and then those that sit on the fence between cooperation and partnership!

The word seems to be a favorite with governments. But if examined its usage a little more closely, it turns out that even though it sounds very decisive and all-encompassing they don't really mean it.

CECA involves only 'cooperation' towards tariff reduction in a phased manner on all items except those on the 'negative list' and tariff quota rate (TQR) items. On the other hand, the 'partnership' in a CEPA is extra-comprehensive, so it also covers trade in services and investment. 

Here is a summary of such trade agreements from the website of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry (MoCI) and other sources:

  • Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) - Sri Lanka (2000); Singapore (2005); Korea (2009); Japan (2011);  Negotiations on with Canada
  • Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)  - Thailand (2001), Singapore (2005), Negotiations on with Australia, Indonesia
  • Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) negotiations - Mauritius
  • Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) - Chile (2005); Negotiations on with South African Customs Union (SACU), MERCOSUR
  • Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations - New Zealand, ASEAN, Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
  • Trade Agreements - Pakistan

The most recent CEPA signed between India and Japan is perhaps a case of adding udon to the spaghetti bowl of trade agreements. The pact is expected to provide access to the $5-trillion-GDP Japanese market. It is also the first CEPA with a developed country. About 94% of the tariffs between Japan and India will be eliminated within 10 years (about 97% by Japan and about 90% by India) on a trade value basis.

Given the ongoing recession and slowdown, it is still too early to know if the agreement between both government's will actually lead to a boost in bilateral trade.


* Dhar, Biswajit (2011): All that the India-Japan CEPA Promises, FT 9 Sep 11, URL -

* Raghavan, BK (2011): India-Japan CEPA holds great promise, BL 7 Sep 2011, URL -

* India-Japan Cepa comes into force on August 1 - HUMA SIDDIQUI, FT 30 Jul 2011 URL -

* India-Korea CEPA -

* PTI (2011): Ministry team to explain FTA benefits to stakeholders, BL 21 Feb 2011, URL -

* India - Trade Agreements -


* Update on India's Foreign Trade - URL -
* System on Foreign Trade Performance Analysis (FTPA) -

* Dept. of Commerce, MoCI-India, URL -

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