India to negotiate free trade agreements with Indonesia, Thailand soon

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Hanoi, Oct.28 (ANI): In a move that can change the dynamics of trade in East Asia and also throw a challenge to China's economic dominance in its own backyard, India is looking forward to negotiate comprehensive free trade agreements with Indonesia and Thailand.

India will step up efforts to negotiate comprehensive trade agreements with Thailand and Indonesia both at official and ministerial level, according to highly placed sources .

Meanwhile, it was disclosed that Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will be the chief guest during India's Republic Day celebration in 2011.

It may be noted that in 2010, South Korean President was the chief guest at India's Republic Day. And, a comprehensive trade agreement with the country was signed later.

In a bid to activate its Look East policy , during Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's recent visit to Japan and Malaysia, India conducted prolonged negotiations on Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) respectively.

India also hopes to achieve the target of holding 15 billion dollars trade with Malaysia and 20 billion dollars trade with Japan by 2015.

India has already signed comprehensive trade agreements with Korea and Singapore and has also concluded trade and goods agreement with Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

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

India is also currently negotiating Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with ASEAN on investment and services, which is expected to be concluded by March 2011.

The bilateral trade pacts are more liberal than those under the ASEAN-India Trade and Goods Agreement.

In trade and services, the individual trade agreements with East Asian countries have progressively been liberalised on a preferential basis, with substantial sectoral coverage, including movement of professionals and skilled persons, cross-border supply, and telecommunication services to provide commercially meaningful market access to both parties.

India is hoping to increase its activities in ASEAN and East Asian region and want to be a part of Asia's success story. By Naveen Kapoor (ANI)

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