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BIMSTEC FTA will boost India's trade

Free Trade Agreement with BIMST-EC countries will enable India to inch closer to ASEAN and SAARC countries.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2006 16:34 IST

Free Trade Agreement with BIMST-EC countries like Bangladesh, Mynamar, Bhutan and Nepal will enable India to inch closer to ASEAN and SAARC countries and accelerate the country's trade to the two blocks, Assocham said on MOnday.

"FTAs among the BIMST-EC countries will facilitate India's trade flow without hindrances and bring it even closer to ASEAN and SAARC," the chamber said in a statement.

India, presently, has no FTA in place with the other BIMST-EC countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand, it said. Both the countries can be used by India as gateways to increase its presence in the ASEAN and SAARC markets as Thailand and Sri Lanka have emerged as major regional trading hubs in the region.

"Thailand will provide larger and wider access to Indian industry to western markets, besides ASEAN region. Sri Lanka will help India make smoother movements of its goods and services towards the entire SAARC region including that of Pakistan because of its strategic location," the chamber said.

"The BIMST-EC region has a GDP of around 700 billion dollars and population of around 1,300 million. It has the potential to become a prominent regional grouping in the region and could further bring about a bridging of the two important regions of the South Asia and South East Asia thereby enhancing closer economic cooperation in the region," Assocham president Anil K Agarwal said.

ASEAN and SAARC, are devoid of this advantage because of the conflict of interest among their member countries due to various economic and political considerations, he added.

First Published: Jan 30, 2006 16:34 IST