India may lead ASEAN in trade

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Jakarta, Nov 30 (UNI) India will emerge as top trading country in the region after a Free Trade Agreement is signed between the member countries, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Ashwini Kumar said today.

Talking to newspersons, accompanying President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on the two nation tour of Vietnam and Indonesia, the Minister exuded confidence that there was some resistance to such an agreement by Thailand, but it seemed that the country would fall in line when all other member countries went ahead with the agreement.

Mr Kumar said India would be able to increase its exports to Indonesia, one of the top emerging economy in the region, from five billion dollar to seven billion dollar. Indonesia, he said, would also be largely benefited by the agreement and be able to bridge the deficit trade as today India exports to Indonesia accounted for four billion dollars as compared to two billion dollars imports from Indonesia.

He said India would be able to compete with other leading countries in the field of hi-tech engineering goods which is still a market not much explored by China, who was threatening the indigenous markets with flooding its low-cost consumer goods in the region. He agreed that China ranked one in trading in ASEAN countries, including Indonesia.

''Real challenge is from China, but we are confident that India have a very big score in the hi-tech area. Besides, we are also trying to raise the issue of highly subsidised goods being flooded by China, in the forum like WTO and also ASEAN,'' he said.

To a question, he agreed that selling goods below the production costs just to caputure market can be termed as 'economic terrorism.' About Indonesia, he said even as being a Muslim dominated country with about 80 per cent population, Indonesia has a peaceful co-existence with composite culture.

The country has large Hindu population also and India would be able to manifold its trade with it in the coming years, he said, saying India and Indonesia are dominated by small and medium size industry till now. India will aggressively try to caputure market in Indonesia for hi-tech goods.

UNI KAS PD KP1328

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