PLAYING CATCH-UP: Looming Trade Questions for India and South Asia

PLAYING CATCH-UP: Looming Trade Questions for India and South Asia

By Sanjay Kathuria, TG Srinivasan, and Prachi Agarwal
Centre for Policy Research
11 August 2021

The world is moving ahead rapidly to reshape trading and economic relationships. Major developments that affect India and the rest of South Asia include the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Vietnam’s free trade agreements with the European Union and the United Kingdom, the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, and the escalating US-China trade war. Moreover, global trade could also shift in response to changes in technology and carbon emission commitments, as well as western countries’ efforts to secure robust supply chains in some critical products such as semiconductors and pharmaceuticals. The outbreak of the pandemic and the sustained efforts to tackle it are accelerating some pre-existing trends in trade. How can India respond to these changes, which are eroding its market access and increasing the attractiveness of East Asian countries, including Vietnam, as investment destinations, but also providing fresh opportunities? How can it take advantage of the new openings to enhance economic relations with its South Asian neighbours? This note presents some initial ideas and an agenda for deeper research.