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PM favours Pan Asian Free Trade Agreement

Written by: Staff
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Hyderabad, May 5 : Reiterating India's commitment for deepening and broadening engagement with Asia, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today called for a comprehensive framework of security for the Region and favoured a Pan Asian Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which will bring economic benefits to the country.

''Our region needs a comprehensive framework of security that will ensure that the process of economic development is not derailed by the threat of terrorism, the threat of our environment and the threat to energy security, food security and security of livelihoods'', Dr Manmohan Singh said in his address to the 39th Annual General Meeting of Asian Development Bank (ADB) here.

The Prime Minister said, at a time when international oil prices were witnessing a steeply rising trend, it was incumbent on all major international financial institutions to pool their collective wisdom, expertise and experience to develop credible strategies to enable the world economy to cope with increased unpredictability and volatility of energy prices and their impact on the process of economic growth.

He said a Pan Asian FTA was the future of Asia and will open up new growth avenues for the Indian economy.

''We have concluded Free Trade Agreements with SAARC, Singapore and Tahilanad. We are working on similar arrangements with ASEAN, Japan, People's Republic of China and South Korea. The web of engagements may herald an eventual free trade area in Asia in covering all major economies and possibly extending to Australia and New Zealand'', Dr Manmohan Singh said.

The Prime Minister asked the ADB to study the benefits of such an economic agglomeration in Asia.

''India is determined to carry forward the India-ASEAN partnership to an enlarged domain for making the 21st century a truly Asian century.'' Dr Manmohan Singh highlighted how Asia, and in particular India, stand to benefit from the process of globalisation, the need for orderly adjustment of global imbalances and the need for avoiding ups and downs of globalisation with the hindsight of the Asian financial crisis.

Dr Manmohan Singh was opening the session of the Board of Governors of the ADB. His address was followed by that of Finance Minister P Chidambaram and ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda

UNI

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