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 12 Apr 2009

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India chamber asks Asean to open up services sector

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) has demanded greater market access for the country’s services sector in the Asean market, which comprises 10 South East Asian nations, according to a report in Indian daily Business Standard.

Ficci was quoted as saying in a press release that liberal concessions in the economic bloc’s services market is needed to offset India’s burgeoning merchandise trade deficit — the difference between exports and imports — with Asean. These demands came a day ahead of the Asean-India summit to be held at Pattaya, Thailand.

India and Asean have concluded negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) involving duty-free trade of goods. The focus is now to include services and investment in the agreement.

“Even though services negotiations are at initial stages, ambitious offers by Asean are necessary for ensuring a balanced outcome of the comprehensive economic cooperation agreement between the two economies, as it would enable Indian service sector and professionals to leverage their competitive advantages,” said Harsh Pati Singhania, president, Ficci.

“An early conclusion of FTA in services is significant in view of the expected full services liberalisation in Asean by 2015,” he added. According to the industry group, an analysis of merchandise trade between the two sides shows that India would import more goods from Asean, adding to the burgeoning trade deficit, once the FTA becomes functional.

Ficci found that only four products produced by Indian industry — petroleum products soyabean and related goods, copper cathodes and auto components — figure in Asean’s top import list.






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