'Huge potential for Indo-ASEAN trade'

The Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry Joint Secretary, A K Tripathy, on Thursday urged industry to seriously look at trade with the the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) region, highlighting the need to make inroads there and overcome the existing trade barriers.

Addressing delegates at the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) discussion titled ‘WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and FTA Challenges’ here, Tripathy said, “Engaging with emerging economies is key for India’s development, and the ASEAN countries have emerged.”

“Unfortunately, our trade is more Western-focussed, and we think that trade with South East Asia is cumbersome because of language, taxes and other barriers,” he said, suggesting government and industry to conduct more research on the region.     

ASEAN and India, with a total population of 1.8 billion and a combined GDP of $3.8 trillion today, comprise a significant trade and economic area with huge potential. ASEAN has become one of India’s largest trading partners in recent years with trade between growing from $10.2 billion in 2000 to $79.3 billion in 2011-12.

Trade from North-East

India is very closely linked to ASEAN, especially Myanmar, through the north-eastern states. This provides good opportunities to enable these states with infrastructure, roads and connectivity to carry out trade with Myanmar.  

According to Avinash P Joshi, “The share of bilateral trade with ASEAN is more than 10 per cent of India’s total trade and the two partners have concluded negotiations on Agreement on Trade in Services and Investment and this Agreement is expected to be signed in the current financial year.”

The government would also be reviewing the FTA agreements with Singapore and Malaysia and Joshi invited suggestions from the Industry to help improve the agreements.   

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