ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Asean-India FTA: Negotiations on services, investment in final stages
Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed said negotiations were in the final stages, with only a couple of disagreements to be sorted out.
The negotiations were initially expected to conclude last year, but dragged on as negotiators encountered some hurdles, he told the Malaysian media in New Delhi yesterday.
“The previous round of negotiations in Jakarta between December 12 and 14 was fruitful.
“Led by (MITI Asean economic cooperation division senior director) P. Ravindran, we have reached many agreements.
“It is almost finalised. Both sides have compromised and shown flexibility. We are almost there,” said Mustapa.
He added that there were a couple of disagreements to be sorted out, which he hoped would be settled in a meeting with Asean and India economic ministerSs on the sidelines of the summit which starts today.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is leading the Malaysian delegation to the two-day summit, accompanied by his wife Rosmah Mansor, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri G. Palanivel and Special Envoy to India and South Asia for Infrastructure S. Samy Vellu.
Mustapa said that even if the FTA negotiations were concluded at this summit, it could only be signed at the next summit due to regulatory procedures including member countries needing to table the amendments in their parliaments.
Malaysia is the coordinating country for the FTA, and has successfully concluded the trade-in-goods sector of the Asean-India FTA in 2010.
“The FTA will give us access to 1.8 billion people, comprising 600 million in South-East Asia and 1.2 billion in India,” said Mustapa.
The commemorative summit is the culmination of several events such as the Asean-India Car Rally and shipping expedition of INS Sudarshini to Asean countries.
The summit will be attended by all Asean leaders and the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh.
The summit is expected to adopt the Asean-India Vision Statement, which was prepared by the Asean-India Eminent Persons Group (AIEPG).
The Vision Statement aims at elevating Asean-India relations to a strategic partnership level and it covers several initiatives under three main cooperations namely political-security, economic and socio-cultural.
Najib is also scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Manmohan.
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