India and Asean are all set to implement an FTA (free trade agreement) from 1 January 2008. Both sides completed six years of negotiations yesterday and a final agreement is due to be signed in December this year.
Over 400 products are on the sensitive/negative list and some chemicals have been included. But I understand that polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) do not figure on the list. Tariffs on PE and PP imports from Asean would be phased out over the next two years, thus opening the door for product from Singapore and Thailand just when new export-oriented plants get commissioned.
With tariffs on the two products currently at 5%, Indian producers say they will not be too badly affected but they do expect increased competition in the local market.
But a bigger threat is looming as India will soon resume talks for an FTA with the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council).
Indian petrochemical producers are once again lobbying to ensure their products figure on the negative/sensitive list. Meetings have been held with government officials but I understand the outcome has not been positive.