India, ASEAN FTA talks to conclude alongside New Delhi summit
New Delhi: Targeting a two-way trade of USD 100 billion by 2015, India and ASEAN will formally declare conclusion of negotiations for their ambitious free trade agreement to liberalise trade in services and investments, on December 20 coinciding with their summit here.
"We will definitely conclude it and then we are duty bound to report to the heads of states and heads of the governments who shall formally make the declaration on December 20," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said at a joint press conference with trade ministers of key ASEAN countries.
Currently, the trade between India and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) stood at USD 80 billion.
"We are aiming that the trade between the two sides will touch USD 100 billion by 2015," Sharma said.
Cambodian Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh expressed hope that the two-way commerce would cross USD 100 billion mark.
After operationalising free trade agreement in goods in August last year, both the sides engaged in widening the base of the pact by including services and investments. However, the talks were getting delayed due to differences in opening the sectors.
To mark the 20th anniversary of dialogue-level partnership and the 10th anniversary of Summit-level partnership with ASEAN, India is hosting the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit on the theme "India and ASEAN: Partners in Progress and Prosperity" on December 20-21.
Sharma said that all the ministers have strongly supported the process of negotiations "so that we can have an ambitious and balanced comprehensive economic agreement which would be in place once we conclude the services and investment chapter".
He said that after conclusion of the talks, it may take an year to fully implement the pact.
Earlier, while speaking after the inauguration of 2nd India-ASEAN business fair organised by Ficci, Sharma said the negotiations for Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a mega trade agreement comprising 16 countries of the region including India and China, are expected to conclude by 2015.
Besides, the free trade pact with ASEAN, India is negotiating market opening pact bilaterally with the members of the block.
India has already implemented FTA with Singapore and Malaysia and is negotiating with Indonesia and Thailand in this regard.