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ASEAN to ink FTA with India soon

December 07, 2005 15:07 IST
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is expected to sign a free trade agreement with India next week, Malaysian International Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz has said.

"All the loose ends have been tied, so the agreement can be signed," she said, adding a similar agreement would be signed with South Korea also.

The ASEAN-South Korea and ASEAN-India FTAs are part of the comprehensive economic cooperation agreements that not only deal with market access and tariff lines but also technical cooperation and capacity building, Rafidah said.

A "subsidiary" agreement with South Korea will cover trade-in-goods agreement and an agreement on the mechanism for dispute settlement.

The ASEAN-South Korea FTA will see tariff removal for more than 80 percent of products by 2010 between South Korea and richer ASEAN countries such as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

For India, tariff removal is expected to come into force by 2011. ASEAN is also trying to negotiate a free trade agreement with Japan.

"We are very close already (in sealing talks)," Rafidah said. ASEAN and China had already moved ahead in implementing a free trade agreement signed two years ago. Leaders of the 10-member ASEAN are to meet in Kuala Lumpur next week for their annual summit.

In conjunction with the event, leaders from China, Japan, South Korea, India and Russia will also participate in talks with the ASEAN leaders.

ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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