Our Bureau

New Delhi, June 29

CLOSE on the heels of signing the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with Singapore, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on Wednesday asked the Trade and Economic Relations Committee (TERC) to come up with proposals that would enable forward movement of negotiations for an India-Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) CECA.

According to an official statement, Dr Singh said that the Government has been reiterating its commitment to bringing down the tariffs to Asean levels.

While this would benefit all of India's trade partners, it is necessary to place trade and investment liberalisation with respect to India's neighbours and Asean countries on a "fast track".

Dr Singh told the TERC, "We must enlarge our economic interaction and integration with SAARC, Bimstec and Asean and find creative solutions to overcome existing hurdles. We must become a partner in the economic progress of our neighbours."

The Prime Minister has asked the Finance, Commerce and External Affairs Ministries to strengthen research and policy-making capabilities in the area of external trade and economic relations both within the country and outside.

The TERC has also been asked to prepare an annual review of India's external economic relations.

The Investment Commission and the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Commission have also been asked to put forward ideas to facilitate the transition to a more open economy.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 30, 2005)
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