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India widens scope of trade with Singapore

October 31, 2006 02:17 IST

India will offer over 250 additional items in the tariff liberalisation programme under its bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with Singapore.

The additional items are being included following a demand made by Singapore to trim the sensitive list and bring it at par with the proposed Asean list.

"While Singapore had sought removal of over 480 items at the eight digit level from the sensitive list, we are looking at removing around 264 items at the six digit level from the negative list and offering duty cuts on them," a commerce ministry official said.

India is negotiating a free trade agreement with ASEAN. It had recently submitted a revised negative list of around 560 items to the trade block from an earlier proposed list of 864 items.

The official said the list of additional items would be tabled for Cabinet approval before being notified under the CECA. The CECA, the first such agreement entered into by India, was made operational on August 1, 2005.

India, at present, has 6,551 tariff lines in the negative list with Singapore. This list implies that the commodities and goods specified in it are not subject to any tariff reduction.

As part of the agreement for trade in goods under the India-Singapore CECA, of the total 11,650 tariff lines, 5,099 lines (or 44 percent) have been offered for tariff liberalisation by New Delhi.

Official said Singapore had also indicated that it would offer Qualifying Full Banking status to two Indian banks by the end of the current fiscal.

"The Monetary Authority of Singapore has submitted a roadmap to the Reserve Bank of India as per which QFB status is expected to be granted to State Bank of India and ICICI by March 2006," the official said.

India, in turn, has also indicated movement on granting the request for around a dozen branches by two Singapore banks —United Overseas Bank and DBS.

Monica Gupta in New Delhi
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