India has concluded discussions on a free trade agreement in services and investments with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and a formal announcement on the same will be made on December 20, 2012.
Anand Sharma, Minister for Commerce & Industry said: “We had in August 2009 signed a FTA between India and ASEAN. The year-on-year growth in trade with Asean has been in excess of 30 per cent. Two-way trade now stands at $ 80 billion, while two way investments are close to $73 billion. We recognize that these are well below potential and we need to take all the steps that are required to elevate this to a much higher level. …… We have taken forward our negotiations on an agreement on investment and services so that we can make it a comprehensive economic partnership. Now we will definitely conclude it.”
After the guidelines of the new pact are reported to the heads of state and heads of governments tomorrow, a formal declaration will be made on Thursday. Cham Prasidh, Cambodia's senior minister and minister of commerce, said the agreement will increase economic engagement in the region and help India and members of the Asean group to increase two-way trade to $100 billion by 2015 from the current $ 80 billion.
Gita Wirjawan, Minister of Trade, Indonesia said, “"It (the new agreement on services and investments) will be a game-changer for the nature of economic relations between the two zones.” But though the agreement is expected to be announced formally this week, implementation of pact could take up to a year, Wirjawan informed.
India and the Asean - which comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - have already inked a free trade agreement on goods in August 2009.
PAVES WAY FOR REGIONAL COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC AGREEMENT BY 2015
The latest FTA would pave the way for talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which would bring together a market of more than 50 per cent of the world's population and over 30 per cent of its gross domestic product, India and the Asean said in August.
Sixteen countries—the 10 members of the Asean bloc and Australia, China, Japan, India, New Zealand and South Korea--are part of the talks on a comprehensive partnership, which aims to allow a greater flow of goods and services under the RCEP. Prasidh said he expected negotiations for the RCEP to conclude by 2015.
FTA WITH THAILAND LIKELY TO BE CONCLUDED NEXT MONTH
Trade ministers of all 10 ASEAN nations were present today at the Indo-Asean Business Fair (IABF) being held in Delhi between 18 and 20 December 2013.
Srirat Rastapana, Thailand's Director General of Department of International Trade Promotion said the ongoing talks between India and Thailand for the market opening pact may be concluded by next month. "We are at the last leg of negotiations. We started with early harvest scheme (EHS). FTA will help to drive economic relationship bilaterally.”
Besides, the free trade pact with ASEAN, India is negotiating market opening pact bilaterally with the members of the block. India has already implemented FTA with Singapore and Malaysia and is negotiating with Indonesia in this regard.
The second edition of the IABF has been organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Ministry of Commerce on occasion of the 20th year of talks between India and Asean and 10 years of summit-level talks between the two zones. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and trade ministers from all 10 countries in the Asean will attend the commemorative summit tomorrow.