India, Malaysia sign broad-based trade-opening agreement

The two sides resolved to impart strategic dimension in their relations as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held wide-ranging talks with Malaysian counterpart Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak here, Malaysia's administrative capital, after which six pacts were signed in various fields like science and technology, IT and health.

Singh invited Malaysian companies, which have good record in infrastructure, to invest in the sector in India pointing out that funds to the tune of USD one trillion would be required over the next seven years and rules were being relaxed to enable smoother FDI flows.

The two sides also set up a CEO's forum to encourage direct interaction between business and industry in each other's countries as well as in third countries while setting the target of USD 15 billion by 2015.

The two leaders formally announced conclusion of negotiations on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which is aimed at enabling freer movement of goods, services and investments.

On the occasion, an Agreement Towards Implementing CECA on July one was signed by Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and Malaysia's Minister for International Trade and Industry Mustapa Mohamed.

The Agreement, negotiations for which began in February 2008, will be formally signed by January next year by when all legal formalities would be completed. The CECA has a wider scope and coverage than the ASEAN-India agreement, which only covers goods, and as such provides companies of the two countries better market access for goods and services.

Besides, the timelines for tariff concessions have been advanced by six months to a year. Expressing happiness over the firming up of CECA, Singh said he was confident that the pact will "transform our economic engagement in a substantive way".

"The year 2010 is a turning point in the history of India-Malaysian relations. The understandings and agreements that we reached today have established a solid foundation for the building of a Strategic Partnership, and bringing our two peoples together for a better future," Singh said at a joint press conference with Najib after their talks.
He said the discussions with Razak had laid the basis for multi-faceted partnership between the two countries which would contribute to the peace, prosperity and development in Asia.

Singh said he and Najib had agreed on the framework for a strategic partnership and the Joint Statement issued after the meeting outlines the roadmap for enhanced contacts between the two countries at the political, business and people-to-people levels.

"India welcomes greater investment from Malaysia in infrastructure and manufacturing sector and Indian companies would also want to do business in Malaysia," Singh said.
Najib said Malaysia would be happy to share India's economic success and join its journey for economic development of the country.

"We must give new impetus to this relationship. I indicated to Prime Minister Singh that Malaysia is ready for deeper and more intensive relationship," he said
Najib said the two countries have set a trade target of USD 15 billion by 2015 and expressed confidence CECA will help achieve it.

Noting that expansion of mutual investment would contribute to reciprocal economic growth of both countries, the two leaders agreed to enhance cooperation and support at government level to further strengthen existing bilateral collaboration in infrastructure development, the joint statement said.

The involvement in infrastructure projects, particularly in the construction industry, is expected to provide bigger opportunities in investment through joint business and governmental collaboration, it said.

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