07 Jul 2024



India and Its Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)


In recent years, India has been actively pursuing Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with various countries worldwide. These agreements are primarily designed to eliminate or reduce trade barriers, tariffs, and protective quotas that hinder the free flow of goods and services between the signatory countries. While FTAs can offer significant benefits, such as increased trade, job creation, and economic growth, they also pose potential challenges.

Benefits of FTAs

Export Opportunities

FTAs can significantly reduce or eliminate barriers to India's exports, making them more competitive in foreign markets. This can lead to increased export volumes, boost economic activity, and create jobs in export-oriented sectors.

Access to New Markets

FTAs open up new markets and customers that were previously inaccessible to Indian companies, thereby diversifying their export portfolio and reducing dependence on traditional markets.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

A more open trade environment can attract foreign investors targeting the Indian market. FDI brings capital, technology, and expertise, leading to job creation and innovation across various sectors.

Increased Efficiency and Innovation

Increased competition from FTAs can drive domestic firms to become more efficient and innovative to survive. This can result in better product quality, lower prices for consumers, and a more vibrant economy.

Potential Challenges

Job Losses in Certain Industries

Increased competition from low-priced imports can lead to job losses in industries that are not well-positioned to compete effectively, particularly in labor-intensive sectors such as textiles and agriculture.

Trade Deficit

If the increase in imports due to an FTA outpaces the growth in exports, it can lead to a trade deficit for India, resulting in an outflow of foreign exchange.

Import Dependence

Relying heavily on imports for essential items can expose India to external shocks and price fluctuations in the global market.

Unequal Benefits

The benefits of FTAs may not be evenly distributed across sectors and regions. Some sectors and regions may gain more than others, potentially leading to increased income inequality.

Considerations for India's Free Trade Agreements

Government Policies

The government can support and modernize domestic industries through policies such as skill development programs, infrastructure upgrades, and temporary tariff protection for sensitive sectors.

Focus on Skilled Workforce

Investing in education and skill development can equip Indians with the capabilities needed to thrive in a globalized economy.

Reskilling and Training

Reskilling and training workers from sectors adversely affected by imports under FTAs can help them find employment in export-oriented industries and new opportunities.

Strategic Negotiation

During FTA negotiations, it is crucial to safeguard fair trade practices, protect sensitive sectors, and ensure suitable market access for key exports.

Overall, a balanced approach to FTAs is necessary. India can benefit from increased trade, investment, and access to new markets while minimizing job losses and protecting vulnerable sectors through strategic policies and workforce investments.

India's Recent Free Trade Agreements

India–European Free Trade Association Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement

This agreement is expected to increase trade value by $100 billion over 15 years through mutually beneficial investments in pharma, chemicals, food processing, and engineering. India will simplify customs procedures, provide market access, and lower import tariffs on industrial goods from EFTA countries, including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The agreement is set to take effect in 2025.

Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement

Effective from December 29, 2022, this agreement will make over 85% of Australian goods exports to India duty-free, with the figure expected to reach 90% by January 1, 2026.

India-Mauritius CECPA

This Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement has been in effect since 2021.


Operational since 2022, this agreement aims to strengthen economic ties between India and the UAE.


The impact of India's existing and potential FTAs on the Indian economy is complex. While some sectors have seen increased exports, others have faced job losses due to import competition. The effectiveness of FTAs depends on implementation and the development of domestic industries, infrastructure, and a skilled workforce.

Therefore, careful negotiation, effective implementation, and a focus on domestic reforms are crucial to maximizing the benefits of FTAs for the Indian economy as a whole.


  1. Team, I. (2024b, June 4). Free Trade Agreement (FTA): definition, how it works, and example. Investopedia. Investopedia

  2. Team, E., & Team, E. (2024, March 27). Free trade Agreements (FTAs): pros and cons - UPSC Economy. Blog -. Edukemy

  3. Press Trust of India & Business Standard. (2023, August 14). India looking at FTAs for strategic considerations also: Commerce Secretary. Business Standard

  4. Welcome to Department of Commerce, Government of India. (2024, June 7). Trade Agreements - Mcommerce. Mcommerce

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