Final India-ASEAN FTA talks likely by Dec 20

Tags: Asean, FTA, India, Economy
India today said it is hopeful of concluding the final discussions for a free

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trade agreement on services and investments with ASEAN members in time for next week's summit here.

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India Commemorative Summit is scheduled for December 20-21.

"Yes, we expect that the India-ASEAN services and investments agreement will be concluded by the time we have the Summit," Additional Secretary in the Commerce Ministry Rajeev Kher said here at a Ficci function.

After operationalising free trade agreement in goods in August last year, both the sides engaged in widening the base of the pact by including services and investments.

However, the talks were getting delayed due to differences in opening the sectors.

"There are few areas, particularly in services we have almost concluded everything, there are just couple of issues which need to be resolved and we expect that it would be sorted out by the time we meet again," Kher said.

He said there are also some issue in investments area.

"There are few areas of interest of ASEAN in the investments sides. (but) both the sides are promising to show flexibility and I am sure that...Both sides we will be able to reach the mid ground," he added.

During his visit to Cambodia, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that "India is prepared to conclude the agreement on trade in services and investment promotion before the Commemorative Summit in Delhi in December".

In 2011-12, the two-way trade between India and the 10-member ASEAN bloc increased by 38 per cent year-on-year to USD 80 billion.

"However, we are still far from realising the full potential. There is aneed to further facilitate trade between the two regions," Kher said.

To mark the 20th anniversary of dialogue-level partnership and the 10th anniversary of Summit-level partnership with ASEAN, India would be hosting the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit on the theme "India and ASEAN: Partners in Progress and Prosperity" here on December 20-21.

Meanwhile, Ficci is organising a three-day India-ASEAN business fair and business conclave here. Over 300 companies from both the sides would showcase their products and services in the fair. Companies from sectors like chemical, auto, pharmaceutical and plastics would participate in the fair.

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