India and the ASEAN bloc have set August 2010 as the deadline for reaching an agreement for opening the services trade as has been done for goods.
"Already two rounds of talks have been completed, next round of negotiations will take place soon...We have set August 2010 as the target," a Commerce Ministry official said.
India has already signed a Free Trade Agreement with the 10 south east Asian nations. The agreement, which will come into effect on January 1 next year, would break duty barriers on bulk of the USD 45 billion bilateral trade with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
However, India is keen on extending the scope of the pact and wants to encompass services as the country has a big stake in the sector.
"We are interested in most of the services in ASEAN including banking and insurance," the official said. India wants more access for its professionals in ASEAN nations like Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
He said there are a lot of opportunities for Indian professionals in these nations in the areas of information technology, English teaching, medical and architecture. Even though the FTAs do not provide immigration, they make it easier for the services professionals to acquire business contracts.
The Asean countries are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.