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Next India and ASEAN talks on FTA in Kochi

india Updated: Aug 28, 2006 15:21 IST

After resuming talks on a free trade pact, India and ASEAN are likely to hold another round of discussions in Kuala Lumpur next month and later in Kochi, with a view to finish negotiations by the end of this year.

"We would be holding talks around September 18-20. As of now, they (ASEAN) are studying our new proposal and we are also examining their sensitive list," G K Pillai, Special Secretary in the Commerce Ministry, said in New Delhi.

Pillai said the September meeting could be held in Malaysia or in some other country to be decided soon. However, ASEAN officials have expressed keen interest in holding the next round of talks at Cochin in Kerala, he said.

Asked about the reason of selecting Cochin and not the national capital, he quipped, "Probably they too have heard about Kerala tourism!"

The meeting next month follows the decision by the two sides last week to resume talks on a Free Trade Agreement. Pillai, who led the Indian delegation to the Malaysian capital for talks on FTA, and Commerce Minister Kamal Nath who took part in the ASEAN Ministers meeting had given a new proposal to the ten-nation bloc to accelerate the negotiations.

According to the new Indian proposal, New Delhi has offered tariff concessions covering more than 94 per cent of the grouping's exports to New Delhi.

In a bid to accelerate the slow moving FTA talks, India on last Friday, offered new tariff concessions covering more than 90 per cent of the grouping's exports to New Delhi and reduce its negative list of items, on which import duties will not be eliminated, to 560 from about 850 earlier.

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