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India, Indonesia agree to fast track FTA talks

March 05, 2012 17:10 IST

India and Indonesia on Monday agreed to fast track the ongoing negotiations for early conclusion of the proposed comprehensive market opening pact, aimed at enhancing bilateral economic engagement between the countries.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who is here for a three-day visit, met Indonesian Economy Minister Hatta Rajasa and discussed about the progress of the free-trade agreement.

"We have discussed the status of the negotiations on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). Both sides have agreed to fast-track the negotiations for an early conclusion," Sharma told reporters after his meeting.

In October last year, both the sides started negotiations for CECA, which would cover trade in goods, services and investment. The bilateral trade stood at over USD 20 billion in 2010-11.

He said that the bilateral trade target of USD 25 billion by 2015 would be achieved well before the time so both sides have felt the need to revise it.

Both the sides also deliberated on the widening the scope of free trade agreement between India-Asean, which would include services and investments. Indonesia is a member of Asean.

India and the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) has already implemented free trade pact in goods and are engaged in intense negotiations to widen the scope of the pact.

Sharma also met his Indonesian commerce counterpart Gita Irawan Wirjawanand and Industry Minister Mohamad S Hidayat.

Both the sides emphasised on increasing economic cooperation in sectors like mining, energy and infrastructure building.

India and Indonesia have identified five areas - manufacturing and skill training; healthcare and pharmaceuticals; mining, agro and food processing; R&D – where joint working groups will be set up.

On a tax imposed by Indonesia on coal exports, Sharma said: "These issues have been discussed. There would be a balanced approach, which would be rewarding for both countries".

Tripti Aggarwal in Jakarta
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