ASEAN-India FTA review can double trade between the two, says Puri

Our Bureau. New Delhi | Updated on August 04, 2020 Published on August 04, 2020

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri   -  PTI

Cambodia, Philippines seek bilateral FTAs with India

A review of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA), once completed, will have the potential to double trade between India and the 10-member grouping, Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, said.

Digital technologies such as e-commerce, fintech, Artificial Intelligence and blockchain hold the maximum promise for collaboration between India and the countries in the Indo-ASEAN-Oceanic (IAOR) region, the Minister said speaking at the Indo ASEAN Oceanic Business Summit & Expo, organised by CII on Tuesday, according to an official release.

The Minister’s expectations on the future of the ASEAN-India FTA could put to rest speculations about India looking at the possibility of exiting the trade pact because of the rising imbalance in favour of the ASEAN.

The 10-member ASEAN includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam. The IAOR has 19 members which include Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Malaysia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, UAE and Yemen.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, had welcomed the idea of a review of the India-ASEAN FTA at the India-ASEAN meet in Bangkok in November 2019 and had expressed hopes that it will help balance bilateral trade more.

The trade deficit with ASEAN from 2010-11 until 2018-19 increased more than four times from $5 billion to $21.8 billion.

In the aviation sector, the government was moving ahead with the privatisation of airports and this presents a huge opportunity for countries from the IAOR region, sid Puri, who is also MoS for Civil Aviation (independent charge). Opening of the MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) sector also presents a major opportunity for collaboration, the release added.

Cambodian Secretary of State for Commerce Seang Thay said India and Cambodia had a long history of cooperation and his government was now seeking to enter into a bilateral FTA with India.

Ceferino S. Rodolfo from Philippines Department of Trade and Industry said India and Philippines could work together in areas such as transport infrastructure, heavy industry, pharmaceuticals, online education among others. He suggested that a bilateral FTA between India and the Philippines could also be explored.


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Published on August 04, 2020
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