India will soon start negotiations for a free trade pact with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and seek to sort out the differences over commodities not under duty concessions, officials said on Friday.
"We made a revised offer to them some months ago. We will sit down and discuss the offer in a couple of days," Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said on the margins of a seminar in New Delhi.
The revised offer is on the list of sensitive items in the free trade agreement, which covers the commodities that will be exempt from tariff cuts.
Commerce ministry officials said India had originally proposed over 1,400 items to remain outside the ambit of tariff reductions. This had stalled the progress in negotiating the trade pact.
Now, the list has been pruned to around 560 items in the revised offer made just before Kamal Nath attended the 38th meeting of the ASEAN economic ministers in Kuala Lumpur on September 3, officials added.
India has already reached a consensus with ASEAN on issues such as the rules of origin. The current round of talks will focus on issues like the sensitive list, as also the modality for tariff reduction and their subsequent elimination.
The trade pact is originally scheduled to commence from January 1 in 2007. ASEAN member countries are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.