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India-ASEAN sets trade target of $70 billion
New Delhi, Mar 2 (Agencies):
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Published on 3 Mar. 2011 12:44 AM IST
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Realising the trade potential through the mutual business cooperation, both India and ASEAN countries have agreed to increase its bilateral trade from current $50 billion to $70 billion by the 2012. This was announced in the first five day India-ASEAN Business Fair and Business Conclave (IABF), jointly orgainsed by FICCI and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry that kick start in New Delhi on March 2.
The Commerce and Industry Minister of India, Anand Sharma said that in 2010, India and ASEAN have raised their trade in goods to $50 billion and the two regions are expected to further increase it to $70 billion by 2012. Sharma further stated that some time in next year, trade ministers of India and ASEAN would assemble here in New Delhi to celebrate the 20th anniversary of India’s ‘Look East Policy’.
During the meeting, new targets for enhancing commercial activities between India and ASEAN would be set.
The Commerce and Industry Minister announced that the focus of UPA government’s new manufacturing policy will be to attract large investments and technology from the ASEAN region by deepening the existing partnership between India and ASEAN.
This would make go a long way in making India a large manufacturing hub that can provide large employment opportunities in the country.
Inaugurating the five-day India-ASEAN Business Fair and Business Conclave (IABF), the Union Minister declared that in the next five years India will require $1 trillion investment in modernizing and upgrading its infrastructural facilities such as ports, roads, railways and shipping to bring them on a par with global standards.
A lot of investment in these areas was expected to flow from the ASEAN region. He said that India and ASEAN are moving closer towards signing a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), adding that such agreements have ready been signed with countries like Singapore and more are in the offing with various other ASEAN countries.
Dato Sri Mustapa Mohamed, Minister of International Trade and Industry of Malaysia, in his keynote address, underlined the need for ASEAN and India to work closely to bring to a fruition the ASEAN-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) to extend the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in goods to encompass investment and services. He expressed his firm conviction that the trade target of $70 by 2012 between the ASEAN nations and India would be realised in view of the successful implementation of the ASEAN-India FTA.
Dato Mohamed said that the India-ASEAN business fair and business conclave, comes a year after the successful conclusion of the FTA. The conclave which brings together 270 companies from the ASEAN region and 200 Indian firms under one roof would serve as an ideal platform for the private sector to take the lead in deepening business-to-business relations.
Sundram Pushpanathan, Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community, pointed out that once the the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area is fully implemented after the co conclusion of CEPA, it will pave the way for the creation of one of the world’s largest free trade areas with a market of almost 1.8 million people and a combined GDP of $2.8 trillion.
The Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community said that the ASEAN-India FTA would see tariff liberalisation for over 90 per cent of the products traded, incliding ‘special products; such as crude and refined palm oil, coffee, black tea and pepper. “I will open the way for over 4,000 items to be traded duty free between ASEAN member states and India. The services and investments agreements will provide greater market access for Indian professionals, service providers as well as investors to the ASEAN region and vice-versa”.
Pushpanathan said that beyond the bilateral free trade area, ASEAN and India were exploring an East-Asia-wide trade arrangement together with the other countries under the East Asia Summit.
This will create the world’s economic space for the businesses of the two regions to operate and prosper. He said that with the strengthening of relations between ASEAN and India, it is an opportune time for both sides to enhance connectivity at every level. ASEAN has launched its master plan on ASEAN connectivity, covering physical, institutional and people-to-people connectivity both within ASEAN and ASEAN with its partners. India, he said, could actively participate in this connectivity to reap mutual benefits.
Harsh C. Mariwala, President, FICCI, observed that post-FTA, trade between India and ASEAN has increased by 22 per cent. The trade target of US $70 billion to be achieved by 2012, offered a huge window of opportunity for trade with India and for Indian corporates to do business with their counterparts in the ASEAN region.

 
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