INDIA & ASEAN LIKELY TO SIGN FTA LATER THIS MONTH

India and the 10-nation ASEAN are likely to sign the long-delayed free trade agreement in services and investments later this month when their economic and trade ministers meet in Myanmar.

Foreign Ministers of all ASEAN countries and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj are hoping that the pact will be finally signed during the four-day-long meeting of Economic Trade Ministers of India and ASEAN beginning on 25 August 2014. The Indian government has already approved the pact in December last year. The agreement will boost movement of Indian professionals in the ASEAN region besides facilitating investments. The India-ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement was signed in August 2009 and came into force in 2010.

The ASEAN noted that the total two way trade between ASEAN and India grew by 5.3% in the past years and called for further encouragement and promotion of business-to-business contact to achieve greater trade and investment. The bilateral trade between India and ASEAN grew by 4.6% from USD 68.4 billion in 2011 to USD 71.6 billion in 2012. ASEAN's exports were valued at USD 43.84 billion and imports from India amounted to USD 27.72 billion in 2012. The target has been set at USD 100 billion by 2015 for ASEAN-India trade. 

The key members of ASEAN block include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. India has already implemented an FTA with Singapore and Malaysia and is negotiating with Thailand.