With India and the ASEAN clearing a major roadblock to a proposed free trade agreement, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to seek a broad consensus for its early implementation during the India-ASEAN Summit in Philippines on Sunday.
After tough negotiations spearheaded by Commerce Minister Kamal Nath in the Philippine city of Cebu in the run-up to Singh's meeting with ASEAN leaders, India's proposal for maintaining a 'negative list' of 490 items with trade coverage not exceeding five per cent by both sides was accepted by the grouping.
Implementation of the FTA was to have begun on January one, 2006 but was deferred by a year due to differences on a number of issues like rules of origin, 'sensitive list' and modalities for tariff reduction and elimination.
India had in December 2005 tabled a sensitive list of 1,414 tariff lines. This was opposed by ASEAN which strongly contended that there should be at least 90 per cent trade coverage in the normal track.
New Delhi has already offered proposal for tariff concessions providing "satisfactory" market access to ASEAN countries.
India wants the ten-member grouping to provide reciprocal market access for its exports.
Officials said it was agreed that negotiators would meet and thrash out the remaining outstanding issues "preferably" by July this year.
The Prime Minister leaves tomorrow for Cebu where he will also attend the second East Asia Summit.