Bilateral trade between India and Asean should grow from $80bn to $200bn: FICCI President Rashesh Shah

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Singapore | Published: September 1, 2018 4:48:27 PM

Industry chamber FICCI President Rashesh Shah on Saturday underlined the importance of growing trade, investment and connectivity with the Asean countries.

FICCI President Rashesh Shah (FICCI)

Industry chamber FICCI President Rashesh Shah on Saturday underlined the importance of growing trade, investment and connectivity with the Asean countries. Market access and air connectivity with the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) were some of the issues that need to be addressed, he said.

Except for Bangkok and Singapore, India’s air connectivity with Asean members Indonesia and the Philippines was on the low side, Shah said on the sidelines of India-Asean meetings being held in Singapore this week. “Asean is a very important market for Indian companies because 650 million people –- almost half of the size of India and economic growth of 4-5 per cent a year -– makes a very strong base,” said Shah.

A lot of issues are on the table including air connectivity and market access. Once these issues are resolved, Shah sees more ease of doing businesses, promoting trade and investments across Asean and Indian economies.

As of now, bilateral trade between India and Asean has grown to USD 80 billion. But this is till small and should be raised to USD 200 billion, he said. India, he sees, increasing exports of IT services, pharma products, textile to the Asean markets. He also sees Indian companies working on infrastructure projects in Myanmar and Laos.

Shah sees India and Asean working on digital technologies, mobile payments and fin-tech sector. “Trade and investment go hand in hand,” he pointed out, calling for help for Indian companies to set up investments in Singapore and use it to leap frog into the region for exports. He said there were good opportunities for Indian companies to work in the Asean region, but “we have to convert these opportunities” into businesses.

Shah’s comments came as India and Singapore launched a third review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), a trade pact that offers India opportunities to venture into the Asean region. Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu and Singapore’s Minister for Communication and Information S Iswaran launched the 3rd review of India-Singapore CECA on Saturday.
The second review was concluded two months ago.

“Shaping CECA in our strengths and preparing our ties for the future economy,” India’s High Commissioner to Singapore Jawed Ashraf retweeted a post on the twitter “IndiainSingapore” on Saturday.

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