The proposed Foreign Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and Asean received a boost today as trade ministers of Asean countries agreed to India’s proposal for reducing the negative list to 490 items, with trade coverage not exceeding 5% by both sides.
According to a commerce ministry statement today, trade ministers of Malaysia, The Philippines, Cambodia, Brunei, Lao, Indonesia, Burma, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam gave a nod to the Indian proposal at a meeting at Cebu, The Philippines, which was attended by Commerce minister Kamal Nath.
However, it is certain that the FTA will not materialise before July this year. prime minister Manmohan Singh is travelling to The Philippines for the Asean summit on January 14-15, with talks expected to focus on trade and economic cooperation.
Trade ministers at the ongoing Asean meet, which began on January 10, have agreed to continue the negotiations and address outstanding issues tentatively by July this year.
The ministry release said there was broad consensus on closing the deal early, to promote trade ties and enhance strategic cooperation in the region. The FTA was supposed to become functional in January 2007 but has received stuck on issues like tariff reduction and elimination.
Nath told his Asean counterparts that they should provide reciprocal market access for India’s exports.
He expressed concern about the sensitive lists of Asean members, asking them to have the lists pruned. The tariff reductions offered by India would provide satisfactory market access to Asean countries, he added.
Nath, who left for The Philippines earlier this week, will meet trade ministers of Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea on January 12.