India's trade with ASEAN countries growing faster: RBI

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Mumbai, Nov 13 (UNI) India's trade with the countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc grew at a faster rate than India's overall trade during 2000-08 and is poised for a further aggressive growth with the Free Trade Agreement to become operational from January one, 2009.

ASEAN, which is emerging as an important trade partner for India saw a sharp increase in the bilateral trade from seven billion dollars in 2000-01 to 38.4 billion dollars in 2007-08. Exports to ASEAN increased from 2.9 billion dollars in 2000-01 to 15.7 billion dollars in 2007-08 and imports increased from 4.1 billion dollars to 22.7 billion dollars during this period.

The balance of trade with India has been in favour of the ASEAN with India's trade deficit with the regional bloc widening from 1.2 billion dollars in 2000-01 to 6.9 billion dollars in 2007-08, the Reserve Bank of India said in its latest monthly bulletin.

Although ASEAN's share in India's total trade has grown significantly, India's share in ASEAN's trade has, however, remained modest. According to IMF trade statistics, India accounted for only 2.7 per cent of ASEAN's exports and 1.6 per cent of imports in 2007, which were 1.6 per cent and 0.9 per cent, respectively, in 2000.

India's trade relations with the ASEAN region have the specific advantages of geographical proximity and a large population of Indian origin within the region. India's economic structure is also largely complementary (service-oriented) to ASEAN economies (light manufacturing) with significant areas of mutual gain.

India has already initiated a free trade agreement (FTA) with ASEAN, which is slated to be operationalised from January one, 2009.

With the FTA in place, the country can look forward to greater market access with greater bilateral relations between the two fast-growing regions, the report said.

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