Millennium Post

India-ASEAN services & investment FTA from July

“The ASEAN-India Investment & Services Agreement will come into force on July 1, 2015. It has already been signed,” Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry H E Dato’ Sri Mustapa Bin Mohamed told reporters here. India signed the FTA in services and investment in September last year. Malaysia is the Chair of ASEAN for 2015. India signed a free trade agreement (FTA) in goods with the bloc in 2009. The country was keen on the services deal as it did not gain much from the pact on goods due to already lower tariffs in the region.

Asean comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and India are targeting USD 100 billion in trade by 2015. Asked whether the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will be signed in 2015, the Minister said: “That is our target. But having said that, we recognise there are challenges. We are negotiating with 16 countries”.

“I acknowledge it is challenging, it is tough. But we have the political will. RCEP is one of the key deliverables as far as Malaysia is concerned and a very important objective,” he added. India is part of the group - RCEP - which is negotiating a mega free trade agreement (FTA). The 16-member RCEP comprises 10 Asean members and its six FTA partners namely India, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand. The 16 economies account for over a quarter of the world economy. RCEP negotiations began in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in November 2012.

The Minister termed as “quite challenging” the target of USD 15 billion bilateral trade between India and Malaysia in 2015 because of fall in crude and palm oil prices, which constitute a large portion of exports from Malaysia to India. In 2013, the bilateral trade between the two countries was USD 13.4 billion.
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