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Rediff.com  » Business » Govt to review all FTAs

Govt to review all FTAs

July 29, 2004 17:11 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the Congress-led United Progressive Allaince government would take a "hard look" at all the Free Trade Agreements signed by the previous National Democratic Alliance government.

"We are taking a hard look at all the FTA agreements signed by the previous government as our's is the government which is only two months old," Singh told reporters on board the special Air-India flight en route to Bangkok to attend the three-day BIMSTEC-SC summit.

He said the summit would also discuss terrorism which is a global problem affecting all countries.

Accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur, Singh, who is making his first foreign visit after taking over as the prime minister, was received at the airport on his arrival in Bangkok by Thai Deputy Prime Minister Chaturgun Chaihaing.

External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh and National Security Advisor J N Dixit are also part of the delegation.

Singh said that since 1990-91 the Congress government has been following the "Look East" policy and his attempt would be to strengthen relations with ASEAN and other Asian countries, and BIMSTEC will act as a bridge between South and South East Asian nations.

"We will have a relook at all FTAs. We will approach in a realistic manner including the timeframe under the framework agreement for FTA among BIMSTEC," he said.

To a question whether year 2017 was prescribed for full implementation of Free Trade Agreement among BIMSTEC countries, Singh said, "This timeframe was fixed by the previous NDA government but our attempt will be to accelerate it."

However, he said it would be too early to say at this stage whether there will be any change in direction of the various FTAs.

Regarding BIMSTEC, he said the forum will be used to give a political direction to strengthen cooperation among all South and South East Asian countries.

Apart from attending the BIMSTEC conference, he will meet leaders of the neighbouring countries.

Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan are the members of BIMST-EC.
K R Sudhaman in Bangkok