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Singapore hopeful of FTA with India by mid-2004

February 18, 2004 14:46 IST

Singapore on Wednesday said it was hopeful that a Free Trade Agreement with India would be signed by the middle of this year.

"With elections it would not be possible for signing the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement in April as scheduled. . . but we hope of completing by mid-year," Singapore Trade and Industry Minister George Yeo told reporters on the sidelines of a FICCI meeting in New Delhi.

He said the agreement would immensely benefit both partners, especially in the area of services, the one in which India has aggressive interests.

Earlier, speaking to a FICCI delegation, he said both sides could explore possibilities in areas of tourism, infrastructure and healthcare.

Yeo also sought to allay fears expressed by the Indian industry regarding diversion of trade and said both sides could work on it.

Pointing at country's interests in the services sector, FICCI sought free movement of professionals without contracts for rendering services.

On multilateral front, he said the trade talks which broke down in Cancun must get back on track to carry forward what was achieved ahead of the WTO Ministerial.

However, Yeo said it was unlikely that talks would conclude by this year even as European Union Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick have been trying to break the impasse.

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