India for Early Start of Free Trade Agreement Review with ASEAN

India and the 10-member ASEAN bloc should strive to announce the review of the free trade agreement (FTA) between them before the year-end, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Anupriya Patel suggested on Tuesday. The issue came up for discussion during the 18th ASEAN-India Economic Ministers Consultations. The ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement was signed on August 13, 2009. It came into force on January 1, 2010.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members are — Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei and Laos. Patel resolved to complete the scoping process expeditiously to make the agreement trade facilitative, user-friendly with contemporary and streamlined customs and regulatory procedures, the commerce ministry said in a statement.

She stated that the trade arrangement has to be reciprocal, mutually beneficial and should balance the aspirations of all the partners. Patel emphasised on the need for securing the FTA provisions to prevent misuse of preferential treatment and also highlighted the non-tariff measures faced by Indian exporters in accessing ASEAN market, especially in agriculture and auto sectors.

“Patel suggested that both sides should make earnest efforts to finalize the scoping paper before the ASEAN-India Leaders’ Summit scheduled in October, 2021 and to announce the review before the end of this year,” it said.

The minister also requested ASEAN to establish Joint Committees for the review of the India-ASEAN services and investment agreements without any delay. The meeting was attended by the economic ministers of all the 10 ASEAN countries.

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