The multi-net agreement regulates global textile trade up to the Uruguay Round. This framework of bilateral agreements or unilateral measures, which introduces quotas and limits imports to countries whose domestic industry has been severely harmed by a rapid increase in imports. As macro-financial assistance was not linked to the principles of the GATT, it was replaced by the textile agreement on 1 January 1995. At the Singapore Ministerial Conference, a ministerial statement on trade in information technology products was adopted. This declaration aims to develop global trade in information technology products. India participated from the outset in the negotiations of the agreement, after reviewing the effects of the proposed agreement and beginning in-depth discussions with trading partners on 1 April 1997. India has committed to remove, as planned, import duties on products covered by the ITA. Quantitative restrictions on these products for BOP reasons would also expire on March 31, 2000. The Conference of State Ministers of Agriculture and Food on 14 September 2000 presented a document outlining the essential features of the agreement and the likely issues that would be being negotiated.
The EU`s Ministry of Commerce supported the views expressed at the Conference of Ministers of State. These documents are likely available to the public to attract input from interested parties, although, as usual, they were released far too late to allow for meaningful debate. In accordance with Article 20 of the agreement, all members must submit their proposals by the end of December 2000. India has signed bilateral agreements with two neighbouring countries, Bhutan and Nepal, to give them preferential access. More limited agreements have been signed with Bangladesh, which grants India`s PSAP agreements with least developed countries, and with Myanmar. Commonwealth preferences will continue to be extended to Mauritius, Tonga and Seychelles. India attaches importance to its participation in regional agreements under multilateral rules. India played an important role in the creation of the South Asian Regional Cooperation Association (SAARC), whose main success in 1995 was the conclusion of trade preference negotiations under the SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA).
The SAPTA was commissioned on December 7, 1995 and includes preferential tariff concessions for 226 positions and product groups. In January 1996, a second round of SAPTA trade negotiations was launched to extend tariff concessions. Effective March 1, 1997, India granted concessions on 902 lines. The third round of trade negotiations began in July 1997. The aim is to continue the SAPTA process with the final goal of a free trade area in South Asia (SAFTA) by 2001.