India-ASEAN FTA in services, investments to be signed in December

NEW DELHI: The free trade agreement in services and investments between India and the 10-nation ASEAN are expected to be signed in December with a view to strengthen economic engagement between the regions. 

The agreement will boost movement of Indian professionals in the ASEAN region which include countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. It will also facilitate investments. 

"We have already conclude trade in goods agreement and God willing by December, we will also be signing trade in services and investment part of our engagement with ASEAN," Commerce Secretary S R Rao said here at a CII function. 

After operationalising a free trade pact in goods in 2011, both the sides were engaged in widening the base of the pact by including services and investments. 

Trade between India the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) stands at about $ 76 billion in 2012-13. 

Both the sides have aimed at increasing it to $ 100 billion by 2015. 

The other ASEAN are 
Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia. 

The pact is likely to be signed in December in Bali, where WTO members are scheduled to meet for the ninth ministerial conference. 

Rao also said India is working participating in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a mega free trade agreement. 

The 16-member RCEP comprises 10 ASEAN members and its six FTA partners namely India, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand. The 16 economies account for over a quarter of the world economy. 

"It (RCEP) is a very ambitious trade agreement which goes beyond tariff barriers and it seeks to explore the non-tariff issues which is to do with common standards, mutual recognition of various degrees across this region," he said. 

"This (pact) is extremely important for us because of changing 
global trade architecture," he added. 

RCEP negotiations were launched in Phnom Penh in November 2012. 

The first round of negotiations were held between May 8- 13 in Brunei.