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Asean concerned about India’s position on FTA - Abdullah

Bernama, Malaysia

Asean Concerned About India’s Position On FTA - Abdullah

By R Ravichandran

13 December 2005

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 13 (Bernama) — 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).

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said establishment of the Asean-India FTA would make "our engagement more meaningful and substantive, and also reflect the rising stature of India".

"In this context, we urge India to positively consider Asean’s position and given India’s own ’Look East Policy’ which placed top priority on relations with Asean," he said.

The Prime Minister was speaking in his capacity as the Asean chairman at the 4th Asean-India Summit at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) here Tuesday.

Abdullah said Asean and India could cooperate productively by identifying and working on projects dealing with renewable sources of energy such as solar energy, biotechnology and geothermal energy.

Abdullah said with the global and regional focus on the avian flu threat, Asean could benefit from India’s edge in manufacturing pharmaceutical drugs, especially in developing generic medicines to counter pandemic flu and other diseases.

He said Asean hoped that India, as a major power, would continue to work with the grouping on matters pertaining to disarmament.

"Asean is totally opposed to all weapons of mass destruction and maintain its call for the total elimination of such weapons," he added.

On terrorism threat, Abdullah said Asean believed that it was timely to proceed with implementing some form of concrete cooperation based on the Asean-India Declaration on Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism which was adopted at the summit in Bali.