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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

Manmohan softens stance on FTA
In a small but significant step forward, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said negotiations for the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the 10-member Asean would be wrapped up by March next year and that India would show “necessary flexibility” to achieve this goal.
With Asean pact in limbo, India now looks at E Asia
India’s problems with the free trade agreement being worked out with the Asean notwithstanding, the country is eagerly exploring the possibility of entering into a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with the sixteen East Asia Summit members, including the 10 Asean countries, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Indo-Asean FTA slips on palm oil
It is now certain that negotiations to conclude the agreement will spill over to the next year, due to disagreements over reduction of duties on palm oil.
Indo-Asean FTA talks may slip on palm oil
Negotiations on the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and the 10-member Asean are stuck over tariff cuts on palm oil.
Honda to source parts from India plant
India is likely to become an important sourcing hub for global auto maker Honda once the Indo-Asean free trade agreement (FTA) comes into operation
Asean FTA may be a no-show
The much-hyped proposed free trade agreement between India and Asean seems to be running into trouble. Asean’s demand that India bring down customs duties on four sensitive agricultural commodities to levels much lower than what New Delhi finds ‘acceptable’ has put a question mark over the deal.
ASEAN-India FTA faces roadblock
Southeast Asia and India remain far apart in their 4-year-old efforts to forge a free trade agreement, differing on the speed and range of liberalization, officials said Friday.
ASEAN for early FTA with India
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is keen on clinching a Free Trade Agreement with India by or before their November bilateral summit in Singapore.
India,Thailand to ink pact on non-conventional energy
A bilateral agreement on non-conventional energy and another on cultural exchanges are among the agreements to be signed when Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont arrives here on a two-day visit on June 26. Leading a 30-member business delegation, the visiting leader is going to push for an early conclusion of the free trade agreement (FTA) between India and Thailand.
Is India ready to be part of Southeast Asia again?
The evolving geo-strategic framework inexorably impels countries in Southeast Asia to accept China and India as major regional powers.