India and Malaysia began negotiations on Monday on opening their markets through an agreement which will not only cover trade in goods and services but also investment.
The first meeting of Trade Negotiating Committee on signing a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement started in Kuala Lumpur.
"The main agenda at the meet includes the overall architecture of CECA, range covered, the timeline, working group etc," Indian envoy to Malaysia Ashok Kantha told PTI.
The TNC is also the co-chair of the India-Asean Free Trade Agreement negotiations. Malaysia, which is keen on a CECA with India, has taken a tough stand in the India-Asean talks demanding more market access for its palm oil.
CECA negotiations between India and Malaysia are expected to be completed by the end of 2009, Kantha said.
He added that Monday's meeting, attended by Department of Commerce Joint Secretary P K Dash from the Indian side, and Malaysian International Trade and Industry Ministry's Deputy Secretary General (Trade) Rebecca Fatima Maria, will set the tone for the CECA negotiations. Kantha said CECA "will be a single undertaking with everything covered under it."
India and Malaysia last year adopted the report of a Joint Study Group recommending the setting up of CECA. The JSG recommended the India-Malaysia CECA would cover trade in goods, services, investment and other areas of bilateral economic cooperation and partnership.
The JSG recommended that the negotiations on all parts of CECA may commence simultaneously as a way forward towards signing of the agreement.
India-Malaysia bilateral trade is likely to reach $16 billion by 2012 from the current level of $6.5 billion, the report said.