A day after India clinched the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said bilateral trade volumes are expected to increase by almost $10 billion this year. "Indian-Asean trade was worth $38.37 billion in 2007-08 and is projected to reach $48 billion this year," he said.
Elaborating on the terms of the FTA, the minister said all parties have agreed to reduce tariff on more than 90 percent of tariff lines, which corresponds to almost 96 percent of the total trade between India and Asean members.
Implementation of concessions will start in 2009, while the bulk of the trade will be liberalised by 2012.
India and the Asean successfully concluded six years of negotiations in Singapore Thursday.
The formal pact for the same will be signed this December at the Indo-Asean summit in Bangkok.
China had some time back signed a similar pact with the South East Asian economic bloc that swelled the bilateral trade between the two to $171 billion last year.
The deal comes at a time when the Doha round of world trade talks has been stalled.
"The FTA is a major step towards the stalled Doha Round negotiations, which have been in discussions for seven years," Kamal Nath said Thursday.