Indian minister seeks review of free trade deal with Asean

NEW DELHI,  An Indian minister has called for a review of the country’s decade-old free trade deal with ASEAN, arguing that it would help in achieving bigger trade volumes.

“The review of the India-ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement is pending,” junior minister for trade Hardeep Singh Puri was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.

“India’s annual trade deficit with ASEAN is close to US$24 billion. The reasons are multiple and I would like in the coming months and years to see this trade deficit narrowed,” the minister said.

Puri made the remarks Tuesday in a virtual conference in which Malaysia’s deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Senator Lim Ban Hong also participated.

He said a review of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement would have the potential to double trade between India and the 10-member Southeast Asian bloc, according to a press release issued by the conference’s organiser Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The FTA was signed in 2009 and came into force on 1 January 2010.

The minister’s remarks reflect India’s growing dissatisfaction with the existing FTAs.

Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar said last month that the FTAs India has signed over the years have not helped the Indian economy.

“The fact is that they have not served the economy well in terms of building our capacities. I think there are ways of engaging the world which do not necessarily have to be FTA-centric,” he said in an online discussion.

 

Source: NAM News Network