India to speed up trade talks with EU, Japan and Malaysia

New Delhi, Aug 25 (Calcutta Tube) India is taking proactive measures to conclude bilateral trade agreements with the European Union, Japan and Malaysia, as the future of the Doha round of multilateral trade talks look uncertain because of the protectionist stance of the developed countries.

‘We are making efforts to conclude the talks as soon as possible. I will meet my counterparts from the EU, Asean countries, Japan and Malaysia to speed up the process,’ Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma has said.

Sharma is scheduled to meet key ministers of Asean countries in Vietnam on Aug 26 and 27.

India signed trade in goods agreement with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) last year. The agreement that came into force from the January 1, 2010, covers tariff liberalisation between the sides.

However, out of 10 nations that form Asean, only four – Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia – have operationalised the agreement so far.

Sharma is hopeful that remaining six countries would also operationalise the pact soon. Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Philippines are other members of the association that have not operationalised the agreement yet.

India targets to increase its trade with Asean countries to $70 billion by 2012 from $43.5 billion in 2009-10.

Sharma said India would continue to look for new trading partners in a bid to reduce dependence on the conventional partners like the US and European countries.

‘Diversification of trade is essential. This has drawn more attention because of the developed countries,’ he added.

During his Vietnam visit, Sharma is also scheduled to meet Japanese trade minister Masayuki Naoshima, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gutch and Malaysian Minister for International Trade and Investment Mustapa Mohamed to review the progress made towards India-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), India-EU Trade and Investment Agreement and India-Malaysia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) negotiations respectively, an official statement said Wednesday.

‘Commerce and industry minister will look forward to reiterating high commitment of India for an early and balanced outcome of these FTA negotiations,’ it added.

Sharma will be heading an official delegation to Vietnam to review progress on India-Asean Services and Investment negotiations. The ministerial-level meeting is aimed to prepare a roadmap for the ensuing Asean-India summit at Hanoi in October 2010.

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