PM to visit Brunei for ASEAN meet; greater economic ties on agenda
Oct 07 2013 , New Delhi
Singh will also attend East Asia Summit on October 10 in Brunei Darussalam, before leaving for his first bilateral visit to Indonesia, where he will be accompanied by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma.
Noting that all "legal scrubbing" of the FTA in services and investments were in place, Secretary (East) in External Affairs Ministry Ashok Kantha said, "We believe it can be (signed) in calendar year 2013. (ASEAN) countries are going through internal procedures."
He said that there were some observations raised by countries like Philippines and Thailand on the FTA, but they have been suitably addressed in the document.
"All issues have been sorted out," Kantha said, while hoping that the pact should be inked by the end of 2013.
ASEAN-India trade currently stands at USD 76 billion, which is targeted to be increased to USD 100 billion by 2015 and to USD 200 billion by 2022, with cooperation ranging across sectors like science and technology, agriculture, environment, human resources, space, energy, telecom, infrastructure, tourism, culture, health and pharmaceuticals.
Asked about India's position on South China Sea dispute, which is expected to figure at the ASEAN Summit, Kantha said that the country's stand is very clear that the issue has to be resolved peacefully as per international norms and the freedom of navigation should be there as per international laws.
He also welcomed moves to adopt a code of conduct by the countries concerned in this regard.
After attending summits in Brunei, where he is also expected to meet his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott on the sidelines, Singh will visit Indonesia from October 10-12.