India, Asean trade may touch $70 bn in 3 yrs

India's trade with the 10-member South East Asian nations bloc may touch $70 billion by 2014 because of the free trade agreement (FTA) that came into force last year, a government official said today.

The two-way commerce between India and the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) increased to over $50 billion in 2010 from $41 billion in the previous year, Joint Secretary in the Commerce Ministry Sumanta Choudhuri told reporters here.

Philippines and Cambodia - the two Asean members - are yet to implement the FTA, he said, adding that once they implement the agreement, the trade will grow further.

"We are aiming for $70 billion in the next three years," Choudhuri said, announcing that five-day India-Asean Fair and Business Conclave will start from March 2.

Trade ministers of all the member countries will lead an official and business delegation to the fair, in which over 500 businesses from across sectors will participate.

Indian majors like Tata, BHEL and APTEC will also showcase their products at the fair.

"The fair will bring together business leaders and practitioners for knowledge sharing and business development across industry segments from India and Asean," Ficci Secretary General Amit Mitra said.

Ficci has been nominated as the lead agency for the fair by the Commerce Ministry.

On India and Asean negotiations on widening the base of FTA in goods by including services and investments, Choudhuri said that all the ministers, including Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, will discuss the progress of the talks.

He said, "We are negotiating that for some time. It is a very complex process, particularly more so in services where the levels of liberalisation and levels of progress within the Asean countries is also very different."

India, which has signed a comprehensive market opening pact with Malaysia on February 18, is also engaged with Thailand and Indonesia for a similar pact.

Asean members are - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mayanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

India already has a free trade pact with Singapore, which was implemented in 2005. 

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