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India-ASEAN

Over a period of five years, India and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) negotiated a bilateral free trade agreement — with plenty of difficulty.

Under their initial bilateral framework agreement, signed in Bali on 8 October 2003, the India-ASEAN FTA for goods was supposed to be finalised by 30 June 2005. Negotiations on services would start in 2005 and end in 2007.

After a year’s delay, discussions ground to a halt in June 2006 when India released its ’negative list’ of items to be excluded from tariff reductions — with 900 products, both industrial and agricultural, figuring on the list. (This was down from India’s initial negative list of 1,410 items.) India’s agriculture ministry, in particular, was arguing hard to exclude commodities like rubber, pepper, tea, coffee and palm oil from the deal. Rules of origin have been the other thorny issue.

Two months later, in August 2006, Delhi issued a revised list, pruned down to 560 items. However, tremendous fears about the impacts of the India-ASEAN FTA on farmers continued to rattle the discussion.

By early 2007, in the midst of the new biofuels boom, palm oil became a central blockage point as Indonesia and Malaysia, both top palm oil exporters, struggled to get India to lower its tariffs.

On 28 August 2008, a deal was finally concluded. The agreement was signed in 2009 and took effect (trade in goods) with 5 of the countries and India in January 2010, (Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Myanmar and Thailand). India is pushing – without much apparent process – for a services liberalization deal with the ASEAN countries.

last update: May 2012


Antony raises objections against FTA with Asean
India’s Defence minister A K Antony has expressed reservations against the free trade agreement with Asean, which comes up for clearance at the Cabinet meeting on Thursday.
India, ASEAN FTA finalised
The text of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to be signed between India and ASEAN has been finalised.
India set to sign free trade pact with ASEAN by October
India is set to sign a long-awaited free trade agreement with the Association of South-East Asian Nations by (ASEAN) by October, news reports said Sunday.
The jinxed India-Asean FTA
The India-Asean Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has suffered so many disasters that some observers fear a jinx.
Go-slow on trade pact with Asean
Commerce minister Kamal Nath is unlikely to have with him the papers for signing the free trade agreement when he meets Asean leaders in Thailand this weekend.
Asean FTA in deep freeze
India and Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) will have to reschedule the June 1 deadline for eliminating duties on more than 4,000 products traded between the two sides, a government official said.
India postpones FTA with ASEAN
Six years of negotiations have yet to convince India to sign a much-awaited free trade deal with ASEAN, as scheduled last week during the group’s summit. India would only ink a deal after it concludes its April general elections.
ASSOCHAM seeks early India-ASEAN pact to boost trade
India needs to expedite a free trade pact with the South-east Asian nations to boost exports in the face of a global economic downturn and rising protectionism, an industry body said on Thursday.
Asean deal hits dual hurdle
The Indian government is likely to delay the free trade deal with Asean to avoid criticism of failing to protect producers during the slowdown.
Downturn may force India to postpone trade pact with Asean
The unexpected setback to exports and the associated problem of domestic unemployment may yet spike the government’s plans to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), a powerful trade block of 10 countries.