New Delhi: India has completed the internal process for signing the much-waited free trade agreement in services and investments with ASEAN which is set to significantly boost its economic engagement with the 10-nation grouping.
"We have completed our process for signing of the FTA on Services and Investment and we await the completion of the processes amongst the ASEAN countries," External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said.
He was addressing 'Delhi Dialogue VI' -- the sixth edition of the annual ASEAN-India dialogue.
After operationalising of the FTA in goods in 2011, ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) and India were engaged in widening the base of the pact by including services and investments.
At present, trade between India and the ASEAN stands at USD 80 billion. Both the sides have aimed at increasing it to USD 100 billion by 2015.
Besides the FTA with ASEAN, India is also negotiating similar market-opening pacts with members of the grouping bilaterally. India has already implemented FTAs with Singapore and Malaysia and is negotiating with Indonesia and Thailand.
Khurshid said the economic underpinnings of the ASEAN- India strategic partnership are being strengthened as a number significant steps are being taken to enhance trade ties.
The minister also underlined the need to ease movement of businessmen and professionals to boost trade ties.
"If we are to engage industry and promote trade and economic linkages, then the first aspect to address is ease of movement for our businessmen and professionals. Our people-to- people linkages are the bedrock of our potential for partnership. We have visas on arrival arrangements with seven of the ten ASEAN countries," he said.
India has so far concluded 10 FTAs with Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Malaysia among others.
First Published: Thursday, March 6, 2014, 20:30