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46th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting; India Puts off Signing Service, Investment Trade Pact with ASEAN
Aug 30, 2014

Economic ministers of the ASEAN gathered in Myanmar capital to discuss issues related to their economic community. The four-day 46th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting (AEM) discussed issues related to ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), implementation of tasks by sectoral working groups, free trade area agreements between ASEAN and its partners.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ministers  also discussed progress of their economic cooperation, focusing on the ASEAN`s service liberalisation and talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the elimination of non-tariff barriers once the ASEAN international goes into effect in 2015.

Issues concerning service and investment liberalisation with Japan, as well as upgrading its existing free-trade pacts with China and South Korea was finalised at the meeting. Moreover, ASEAN signed four agreements on the liberalization of more service businesses and agree to amend FTA with Australia and New Zealand.

ASEAN comprises ten member countries –Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The sessions  included partners from Australia, Canada, China, European Union (EU), India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia, the US as well as ASEAN-Business Advisory Council, US-ASEAN Business Council and ASEAN-EU Business Council.

India Puts off Signing Pact with ASEAN:  India has put off signing a free trade agreement with ASEAN in service and investment, because Indian government does not want to do it in a hurry. Indian Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman did not attend a meeting with her ASEAN counterparts in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, citing conflict of schedules at home.

The signing ceremony was supposed to happen at the end of the second day at the ASEAN economic ministers meeting in the Myanmar capital city, but India announced cancellation at the last moment.

India and ASEAN already have free trade agreement in goods since January 2010. But India complained that the agreement has not helped India increase export to ASEAN countries while imports from ASEAN has kept growing.

Once signed, the FTA will automatically be converted into a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement covering trade in goods, services and investment. 


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