New government in India is set to sign a Free Trade Agreement with the ASEAN opening the 1.1-trillion dollar South-East Asian market for Indian exporters who find it hard to sell their merchandise in the recession-hit West. According to official sources, all the differences have been resolved and the free trade agreement would be signed either on the sidelines of ASEAN trade ministers meet in August or at the ASEAN Summit in October. The signing of trade-opening agreements with the ASEAN and South Korea are on the 100-day agenda of the government for restoring high growth to the economy. Negotiations with South Korea have also been completed.
Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said he would take the drafts of the two FTAs to the Cabinet soon for approval.
The pact, which aimed at opening the 1.5 billion-people market, has been delayed several times due to the differences over issues such as restricted list of goods, duty cut in farm products like palm oil and rules related to value addition.
ASEAN accounts for 9.6 per cent of India's global trade.India's exports, which significantly depend on the developed markets of the US and Europe have been shrinking for the last six months on slowdown in demand for merchandise in these recession-hit markets.
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