India, Asean to discuss progress of FTA in services sector

Tags: Economy
Trade Ministers of India and Asean, which will meet on August 13 in Indonesia, are expected to discuss the progress of the ongoing negotiations for a free trade agreement in services sector, an area of immense interest for Indian professionals.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who will participate in the ninth India-Asean Economic Ministers meet in Manado in Indonesia, may discuss about the issue with his Asean counterparts, an official said.

India and the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) has already implemented a free trade agreement in goods and are engaged in intense negotiations to expand this pact to include services and investments.

"Ministers may want to exchange views and provide guidance on moving forward the negotiations, including setting a new target date for the conclusion of the negotiations," the official said.

The services sector is of key interest to India as it contributes over 55 per cent to its GDP.

The services sector has also emerged as an important area for export earnings. The country is looking at expanding trade with the Asean in several services, including banking, insurance, health, accountancy, architecture and engineering.

Both the sides are also in talks to recognise each other's educational degrees. Trade between the two sides stood at USD 50 billion.

Ministers would also review the status of the implementation of free trade pact in goods.

Sharma is also expected to meet trade ministers of Australia, New Zealand and China.

The Asean countries are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.

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