India and ASEAN must work for early conclusion of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said today. He further said that countries benefit quite significantly from free trade and trade agreements also stimulate domestic economic reforms.
Singapore could serve as a gateway for Indian companies which want to invest in ASEAN countries, Keat added.
"RCEP will be a game changer. We must work towards early conclusion of RCEP by the end of this year," he said at an event here.
The RCEP is a free trade area (FTA) consisting of 10 ASEAN members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their six FTA partners: India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
The RCEP aims at liberalising norms for trade in goods and services and boost investment among 16-member countries.
The minister said trade ministries of ASEAN and India are discussing RCEP. "Trade agreements stimulate domestic reforms. Trade agreement benefits all," he noted.
The minister said India and Singapore can collaborate on infrastructure development. India is a ASEAN's sixth largest trading partner, the minister said, adding "So I believe that there is much more potential to for India and ASEAN enhance their bilateral trade."
Noting that India has stepped on reforms to reduce poverty, the minister said, "Both India and China are prepared to harness full benefits of globalisation."
"India has stepped on reforms to reduce poverty."
He pointed out that ASEAN too is a region of opportunities and economic liberalisation has been key driver of ASEAN economic growth.
India sends the third largest number of tourists in Singapore.