India seeks early conclusion of FTA in services with ASEAN

Tags: Asean, FTA, India, Economy
India today strongly pushed for early conclusion of a free trade agreement with ASEAN in services and investment and expansion of communication links with the member States of the 10-nation grouping considered one of the world's fastest growing regions.

Addressing the ASEAN-India Ministerial meeting here, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna highlighted the growing congruence in India's ties with the bloc and emphasised the need for strengthening private sector participation and encouraging cross-country private-public partnerships in improving connectivity between ASEAN nations and India.

"The story of economic growth in our partnership is meeting expectations despite the global economic downturn. Two-way trade between ASEAN and India in 2011-12 reached $80 billion.

"We believe that the early conclusion of the ASEAN-India Services and Investment Agreements would give a strong fillip to our economic engagement," he told the annual meeting attended by Foreign Ministers and top officials of the ASEAN countries.

India and the ASEAN have already implemented a free trade agreement in goods and are engaged in intense negotiations to widen its base and include services and investments.

The India-ASEAN Trade in Goods (TIG) Agreement was signed in August 2010 after six years of negotiations and it came into force on January 1 last year.

Services and Investments could not be included in that free trade agreement as the two sides failed to reconcile their differences in time and it was decided to have a separate pact on these sectors.

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