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Trade ministers of India and 10-nation ASEAN today asked their negotiating officials to "step up efforts" and show greater flexibility for early conclusion of the free trade pact in services and investments.
The services sector is of key interest to India as it contributes over 55% to its GDP. All the ministers including Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma reviewed the progress of the talks on services and investment agreement besides other issues at the 'ASEAN Economic Ministers’ meet at Manado in Indonesia.
India and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have already implemented a free trade agreement ingoods and are engaged in intense negotiations to expand thispact to include services and investments.
"The Ministers reviewed the progress in the negotiations on services and investment agreement. They tasked the negotiators to step up their efforts and exhibit greater flexibility for completion of these negotiations with substance," an official statement said.
Informing about the flexibilities shown by India in the negotiations, Sharma urged ASEAN member countries to reciprocate with improved offers.
"The Ministers underscored the importance of the services and investment agreement to complement the Trade in Goods Agreement, in order to further enhance the economic integration of ASEAN and India," it added.
Trade between the two sides increased by 24% in 2010 to USD 51.3 billion. Foreign Direct Investments inflows from ASEAN has reached USD 14.25 billion in May 2011 and accounted for 10.36% of the country's total FDI.
Later in the day, Sharma also met the Economic Ministers from the East Asian Summit participating countries ie the ten ASEAN Member States-- Australia, China, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.
They exchanged views on regional and global issues affecting the East Asian region as well as developments in areas of economic cooperation within the East Asia Summit framework, it said.
"The Ministers noted the progress of the Working Groups that were tasked to look into the recommendations in the studies on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia (CEPEA)," it said. Sharma also held bilateral meetings with the Trade Ministers of Australia, Indonesia and Philippines.
The Asean countries comprise of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.
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