India said it was hopeful of concluding the final discussions for a free-trade agreement (FTA) on services and investments with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), in time for next week's summit in New Delhi [ Images ]. The Asean-India Commemorative Summit is scheduled for December 20-21.
"We expect the India-ASEAN services and investments agreement will be concluded by the time we have the Summit," said Rajeev Kher, additional secretary, Ministry of Commerce.
After operationalising a free trade agreement in goods in August last year, both the sides engaged in widening the base of the pact by including services and investments. However, the talks were getting delayed due to differences in opening the sectors.
"We have almost concluded everything. There are just a couple of issues that need to be resolved and we expect it would be sorted out by the time we meet again," Kher added.
He said there were also some issues in the area of investment.
"There are a few areas of interest of Asean in the investments sides," he added.
On his visit to Cambodia, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] had said "India [ Images ] is prepared to conclude the agreement on trade in services and investment promotion before the Commemorative Summit in Delhi in December".
In 2011-12, the two-way trade between India and the 10-member Asean bloc increased by 38 per cent to $80 billion.
To mark the 20th anniversary of dialogue-level partnership and the 10th anniversary of Summit-level partnership with ASEAN, India would be hosting the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit on the theme "India and ASEAN: Partners in Progress and Prosperity" on December 20-21.
Meanwhile, Ficci is organising a three-day India-ASEAN business fair and business conclave here. Over 300 companies from both the sides would showcase their products and services in the fair. Companies from sectors like chemical, auto, pharmaceutical and plastics would participate in the fair.