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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        3  March 2011

India-Asean trade to grow 40 percent

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India is a fast emerging as a key trading partner for the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean), with both parties benefiting from each other’s relative strengths.

Trade between the two partners has now exceeded $50 billion a year, with policy makers setting their sights on a target of $70 billion next year.

Having already signed a free trade agreement for goods, both sides are now pushing to finalize an FTA for services by August.

“There is no denying that India and Asean complement each other,” Shri Anand Sharma, India’s Commerce and Industry Minister, said at the opening of the India-Asean Business Fair and Business Conclave on Wednesday, March 2.

This week’s meeting in New Delhi is the first gathering to bring together top business and government leaders from both sides.

Asean is India’s fourth-largest trade partner. Between 1993 and 2010, trade between the two economies grew at an annual rate of 18 percent, from $2.9 billion to more than $50 billion.

“The Asean-India Free Trade Zone will be a cornerstone of our growing and prospering economic partnership,” said the deputy secretary general of the Southeast Asian bloc, Sundaram Pushpanathan.

“Once fully implemented — after we conclude our services and investment agreements — it will pave the way for the creation of one of the world’s largest free trade areas with a market of almost 1.8 billion people and a combined GDP of $2.8 trillion.”

Under the Asean-India FTA for goods, the sides have committed to slashing tariffs by 90 percent on goods including palm oil, coffee, black tea and pepper.

The agreement will pave way for more than 4,000 different goods to be traded free of duties between the partners.

The two-day India-Asean Business Fair and Business Conclave will be followed by the Delhi Dialogue, where government leaders will discuss issues of common concern to both sides.

Indonesia’s trade minister, Mari Pangestu, is scheduled to address the session on Friday.

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