Hopes high on India-Asean services and investment pact before November meet

Written by Huma Siddiqui | Singapore | Updated: Aug 30 2014, 06:24am hrs
Asean members are hoping the India-Asean services and investment agreement would be inked before the summit in Myanmar later this year.

Senior officials of an Asean member country said: All members are optimistic the agreement will be inked soon. It is already negotiated and ready to be signed. As far as we know, the scrubbing process has started and hopefully it would be inked soon to be adopted at the summit, which will be the first for PM Narendra Modi. It will be an important summit as he will meet the leaders of Asean countries as well as observers countries.

Since MoS Nirmala Sitharaman skipped the East Asian economic ministers' summit in Myanmar earlier this week, one option being explored is to get the pact signed by economic ministers from the 10 Asean countries in the presence of senior commerce ministry officials from India, who could then get the relevant papers to New Delhi for Sitharaman to sign.

The India-Asean FTA on services and investment an agreement to boost cross-border investment and facilitate movement of professionals between India and the 10-member bloc will upgrade the existing FTA in goods into a comprehensive economic partnership agreement.

While the details of the pact were sealed in March this year, it has to be signed by economic ministers of all countries before it is formally adopted. The adoption is likely to take place during the India-Asean summit in November.

Key members of Asean include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. India has already implemented FTA with Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

The Asean grouping has also also reiterated the need to strengthen Asean-India cooperation in agriculture and energy in order to ensure long-term food and energy security, especially with the use of appropriate technologies.

India received a total of R10.75 lakh crore in FDI in the last 14 years, of which R1.39 lakh crore has come from Asean. Indian investment in Asean countries in the period was R1.54 lakh crore. There has been good progress in ties between India and Asean in the last few years.