BIMSTEC FTA's list being fine tuned

With the July 1, deadline for BIMSTEC FTA fast approaching, efforts are on to fine tune the sensitive list of items that can be traded.

india Updated: Jan 31, 2006 16:14 IST

With the July one deadline for implementation of BIMSTEC Free Trade Area fast approaching, efforts are on to fine tune the sensitive list of items that can be traded.

"The fine tuning of negative lists are going on to accomodate trade interests of all the BIMSTEC countries... It would take 2-3 months to complete the negotiations," Commerce Ministry Joint Secretary Rajeet Mitter said at an Assocham seminar.

The sensitive list contains those items on which no tariff reduction would have to be made.

Mitter said Rules of Origin have also not been finalised, but said the deadline of July one would be met.

He said from July 1, 2006 two major FTAs would come into effect, the other being SAFTA and added that there was still time left for Pakistan to ratify the SAFTA.

Terming BIMSTEC FTAs to be more comprehensive than SAFTA, Mitter said it includes negotiations on services as well as investment, which were not present in SAFTA.

BIMSTEC FTA initially will cover only products, but after 2007, services and investment will come under its purview. It would be implemented in two phases with developing country members and Least Developed Country members getting some grace period.

In the first phase, described as the fast track, the three developing countries (India, Thailand and Sri Lanka) . will give free access to goods from LDCs between July one, 2006 and July one, 2007.

The LDCs including Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar will implement the fast track by 2011 to give entry to goods from developing countries and normal track by 2017.

While India's export with BIMSTEC countries for the last financial year 2004-05 stood at $4,778.68 million, imports were $2,072.62 million.

First Published: Jan 31, 2006 16:14 IST