Next Round of Talks for India-Asean Trade Pact Review in July

ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is one of the major trade partners of the country, with a share of 11 per cent in India's global trade
Trade Pact
Trade Pact

Senior officials of India and the 10-nation bloc of Southeast Asian nations - ASEAN - will hold the next round of talks in July to review the existing free trade agreement in Jakarta, Indonesia, an official statement said on Sunday.

The last round of the three-day negotiations concluded on May 9 in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

The discussions for review of AITIGA (Asean-India Trade in Goods Agreement) started in May 2023 to make it more trade-facilitative and beneficial for businesses across the region, the commerce ministry said.

A joint committee, which is undertaking the review work, has so far met four times.

It has finalised its terms of reference and the negotiating structure for the review in its first two meetings and initiated talks for the review from its third meeting, which was held on February 18-19 here.

"The fourth Joint Committee meeting for the review of AITIGA was held in Putrajaya, Malaysia from 7-9 May," the statement said.

The committee was co-chaired by Rajesh Agrawal, Additional Secretary in the Department of Commerce, and Mastura Ahmad Mustafa, Deputy Secretary General (Trade), Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, Malaysia.

India and the 10-nation bloc ASEAN have agreed to conclude talks in 2025.

The delegates from India and all 10 ASEAN countries participated in the discussions.

The ministry said that 8 sub-committees have been constituted to deal with different policy areas of the agreement in the review, and out of these, five have started their discussions.

The issues being negotiated by these committees include national treatment and market access, rules of origin, standards, technical regulations, conformity assessment procedures and legal and institutional.

ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is one of the major trade partners of the country, with a share of 11 per cent in India's global trade.

The bilateral trade stood at USD 122.67 billion in 2023-24.

"The upgradation of AITIGA will further boost bilateral trade. Both sides would next meet for the fifth joint committee meeting from 29-31 July 2024 in Jakarta, Indonesia," the statement said.

The review of the AITIGA was a long-standing demand of Indian businesses.

India has asked for a review of the agreement to eliminate barriers and misuse of the trade pact.

Members of the Asean include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

In general, such review exercises include implementation issues, rules of origin; verification process and release of consignments; customs procedures; further liberalisation of trade in goods; and sharing and exchange of trade data.

Exports to ASEAN countries grew from USD 37.47 billion in FY2019 to USD 41.21 billion in FY2024, a 9.96 per cent increase. On the other hand, imports from the bloc saw a more significant rise of 34.30 per cent from USD 59.32 billion to USD 79.67 billion.

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