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India denies FTA talks deadlock

27 July 2006

India denies FTA talks deadlock

NEW DELHI: India’s Commerce and Industry Ministry said yesterday free trade talks with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were still on and officials from both sides were likely to submit fresh proposals soon.

A spokeswoman for Malaysia’s trade minister said on Tuesday that talks had been suspended because of India’s reluctance to open its markets.

"We are surprised at the comments. The talks are still on and officials will present specific proposals within 15 days," a spokeswoman for the Commerce and Industry Ministry said.

The Malaysian trade minister’s spokeswoman said India had demanded that some 850 goods which it imports from Southeast Asia be excluded from the pact. She said the goods on the exclusion list account for some 30 percent of Southeast Asia’s exports to India.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Burma, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. India and ASEAN have been negotiating to get a trade agreement in place by the start of 2007 and Indian newspaper The Business Standard reported yesterday talks have been stuck on the issue of duty cuts by India on palm oil, tea and pepper.

It said India had made a revised offer to break the deadlock and that a new formula from India was likely to be submitted at an India-ASEAN trade ministers meeting on August 23-24.

India has been working on free trade agreements with China, Japan and South Korea as part of a concerted effort to strengthen its regional ties.

 source: Gulf Daily News