Wednesday, May 27

India, Asean pushing hard to conclude services and investment pact

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HYDERABAD: The much delayed trade pact on services and investment between India and 10-member grouping Asean still has some “loose ends to be tied up,” Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said.

India is hopeful that the negotiations could be concluded before the  India-Asean Commemorative Summit in New Delhi on December 20 and 21 to mark New Delhi’s 20-year ties with Asean.

“Meetings were concluded a few hours ago in Jakarta, I do not want to  pre-empt the final touches in the next few days.

“Hopefully when we meet in New Delhi, we hope to get some good news,” he said when asked on the deal that is being hammered out.

India and Asean leaders participating at the Summit would take stock of the negotiation progress, he told reporters at the end of his three-day trade and investment mission to Mumbai and Hyderabad, India that ended on Saturday.

“There is progress but there are still some loose ends to be tied up by Thursday.

“We are all looking forward to sign this agreement on services and investment with India,” he said when asked if both parties could strike a deal within the next 96 hours.

Asean and India have already signed A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in goods.

He said an FTA in services and investment would further boost bilateral and trade ties between India and Asean member countries.

Asean and India have been in discussions on the pact, initially scheduled for conclusion in 2011, since the last five to six years.

India-Asean trade touched US$80 billion in 2011-12, recording a growth of 29 per cent over the previous years.

India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry additonal secretary Rajiv Kher had recently said there were some issues to be sorted out both in services and investment negotiations.

“Some flexibility is required from both sides,” he said. — Bernama