India and the 10-nation Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) are set to wrap up negotiations for a free-trade agreement (FTA) on services, paving the way for setting up a common market that will give about 1.7 billion people the option to trade in services across countries of two
high-growth regions of Asia.
“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.
Sharma expressed confidence that the two-way trade between India and the ASEAN countries “will be able to reach $100 billion mark by 2015”, from the current level of $80 billion.
India already has goods trade FTAs with ASEAN countries.
Sharma also said that early operationalisation of the services and investment agreement would provide greater impetus to the trade and investment flows.
"We would like to benefit from the ASEAN experience in key sectors of economy such as infrastructure, agro-processing, retail and value added manufacturing," he said. "Equally, Indian companies can be invaluable partners for ASEAN economies in augmenting productivity.”
Earlier, Sharma said the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership "will have in its embrace ASEAN and the six countries including India, China, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Japan and Australia, will truly have a defining influence on the global economic architecture."