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PM for more integration between India, ASEAN

Manmohan Singh asks Indian industry to be globally competitive to face challenges of the global integration.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2007 13:00 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday underlined India's "commitment to increased economic interaction between India and the economies of East and Southeast Asia", ahead his visit to the Philippines to attend the India-ASEAN and East Asian summits later this week.

"Later this week I will be participating in the East Asian Summit. We remain committed to increased economic interaction between India and the economies of East and Southeast Asia," Manmohan Singh told business leaders in New Delhi at the 79th annual general meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

As India and the ASEAN continue negotiations for a Free Trade Area (FTA), Manmohan Singh asked Indian industry to be more globally competitive to face challenges of "the brave new world of global integration".

"We would also like to be a member of the wider Asian Economic Community. This requires greater openness on our part," he said.

"Indian industry must be prepared for this. We have laid out a timetable for tariff reduction and we must adhere to it," he added.

"Indian industry can no longer seek excessive protection through tariffs and must prepare for the brave new world of global integration," Manmohan Singh stressed.

The prime minister will be visiting Cebu island in the Philippines to attend the January 14-15 India-ASEAN and East Asia summits. It is a visit that will infuse new energy into India's Look East policy and place it at the heart of the emerging East Asian architecture.

Commerce Minister Kamal Nath will also be going to the Philippines for the economic ministers meeting of ASEAN.

India and ASEAN have yet to resolve their differences on a negative list of products, where New Delhi will not be bound to cut tariffs due the adverse impact it could have on its farmers and industry.

India has offered to prune the list to 490 items from 563 but ASEAN is insisting that New Delhi trims it to 387.