New Delhi [India], June 1 (ANI): The Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to conclude an early Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Australia and include apparel as a focus product.

Australia has preferential agreements with India's major competitors like China and Vietnam. It also gives benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) to Bangladesh and Cambodia, resulting in a five per cent duty advantage for these countries vis-a-vis India.

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"We are desirous of engaging with Australia in a big way," said AEPC Chairman A Sakthivel in a letter to Modi. "As per our estimate, India can increase additional exports of 500 million dollars in the next three years if the CEPA with Australia is concluded."

In the European Union (EU) market, said Sakthivel, Indian apparel exports have a duty disadvantage of 9.6 per cent as compared to its competitors like Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

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Vietnam recently concluded a free trade agreement with the EU, implementation of which will make India uncompetitive. "Hence there is an urgent need to have a level-playing field in terms of market access and margin of preference in the biggest global market of Indian apparel," said Sakthivel.


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