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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

Asean suspends FTA talks with India
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has suspended free-trade talks with India because of New Delhi’s reluctance to open its markets, Malaysia’s trade and industry minister said on Tuesday.
India-Asean FTA hits fresh roadblock
The much touted India-Asean free trade agreement (FTA) is in a limbo with the 10-country trading bloc hardening its stance and seeking more concessions from India.
India remove negative list in FTA talks: Asean
India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement talks are in troubled waters with Asean insisting on New Delhi to eliminate its big list of negative items, contrary to the stand taken by the former.
Indo-ASEAN free trade deal in trouble
A proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the ten-nation Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has hit a major roadblock with India’s agriculture ministry objecting to the inclusion of commodities like pepper, rubber, palm oil, coffee and tea in an ambitious tariff liberalisation programme.
India-Asean FTA hits a roadblock
The India-Asean Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has hit a roadblock with Agriculture Ministry objecting to inclusion of farm products like pepper, rubber, palm oil, coffee and tea in the tariff liberalisation programme.
India, Asean toiling for pact on negative items under FTA
India and Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations) are struggling to reach an agreement on the list of sensitive items for the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the two sides. The sensitive or negative list contains items which will not be subjected to duty cuts agreed under the FTA.
Asean proposes separate negative lists
Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) has demanded that all its members should be allowed to maintain separate negative lists with India in the free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated between the two sides. It, however, wants India to have a common negative list for all the 10 Asean members.
Asean concerned about India’s position on FTA - Abdullah
Asean has expressed its concern on India’s proposal to exclude a large number of products from tariff concessions under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
India, Asean to consider free-trade pact by ’07
India and the Association of South East Asian Nations aim to forge a free-trade agreement by the start of ’07, both sides said after a meeting on Friday.
Asean-India FTA implementation to be amended to Jan 1, 2007
Asean’s economic officials have proposed to amend the implementation of Asean-India Free Trade Area (FTA) Agreement from Jan 1, 2006, to Jan 1, 2007.