Manila, 26 August: India should finalise a free trade agreement with the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) within the next two months, the country’s top trade official said today.
“The agreement is almost 98% settled,” Indian Commerce Secretary Gopal Pillai told Reuters on the sidelines of an ASEAN trade meeting.
“We hope to sign it at the ASEAN summit in Singapore in November.”
He did not say what issues needed to be ironed out, but ASEAN officials have previously said India needs to agree to take out petroleum products from a sensitive list of goods whose tariffs will not be eliminated.
Pillai said Indian exports to ASEAN could reach $22 billion by 2012, if the agreement was signed in November.
In 2005, two-way trade between India and ASEAN was $23 billion, with Indian exports at $8 billion.
ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.