India, ASEAN trade ministers call for starting discussions to determine FTA review scope

New Delhi: Trade ministers of India and 10-member ASEAN countries have instructed their officials to start discussions for determining the scope of review of free trade agreement (FTA) at the earliest with a view to make the pact more user-friendly, simple, and trade facilitative for businesses.

The issue was discussed during the 17th ASEAN-India Economic Ministers Consultations meet held virtually on August 29, an official statement said on Sunday.

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal stated that the review of FTA in goods has been “inordinately delayed”, and requested to start the full review before the end of this year.

“The ministers from India and ASEAN countries instructed the senior officials to start the discussions to determine the scope of the review at the earliest to, inter-alia, make the free trade agreement more user-friendly, simple, and trade facilitative for businesses,” the statement said.

The review will make the agreement modern with contemporary trade facilitative practices, and streamlined customs and regulatory procedures, it added.

Goyal highlighted that the pact has to be mutually beneficial and a win-win for all sides.

He also expressed the need to strengthen rules of origin provisions, work towards removal of non-tariff barriers and provide better market access to Indian businesses.

Goyal and Tran Tuan Anh, Minister of Industry and Trade of Vietnam, co-chaired the consultations.

It was attended by trade ministers of all 10 ASEAN countries — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India trade in goods agreement was signed on August 13, 2009 and came into force on January 1, 2010.