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India-Malaysia Trade Talks On Course, CECA By Mid Next Year

Bernama, Malaysia

India-Malaysia Trade Talks On Course, CECA By Mid Next Year

By P. Vijian

2 July 2008

NEW DELHI — Indian and Malaysian trade negotiators are racing to conclude the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CECA) by next year, with another eight rounds of talks to go.

A high-powered Malaysian delegation concluded a two-day second round trade talks with their Indian counterpart here Tuesday.

The next meeting, slated for next month, will explore the agreement in detail, said Malaysia’s chief negotiator Datuk Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria from the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) told Bernama.

She said India and Malaysia were enthusiastic to finalise CECA quickly so that industries from both sides could reap the benefits under the agreement.

"Because of the benefits we can derive from this engagement, we want to conclude it quickly. We have given ourselves until middle of next year to wrap up negotiations," said Rebecca, who is also Miti’s deputy secretary-general (trade).

Alongside the India-Asean Free Trade Agreement, India and Malaysia are working closely on a bilateral trade pact that could enhance trade volume from the current two-way trade worth about RM21 billion (US$6.5 billion).

"We want to fast track this. A lot can be achieved through this economic cooperation. We are looking at various proposals put on the table, for example, the SMEs (small-and medium-scale enterprises) that are important to both economies, intellectual properties and education.

"When we meet in the third round, we want to see a solid take away in terms of economic cooperation. We don’t see big areas of divergence at this stage and I am confident we can meet the June deadline," she said.

A joint group study in 2005 showed bilateral trade would surge under CECA, with Malaysia’s trade increasing by 1.3 times to RM38.5 billion (US$11.85 billion), while India’s by 2.5 times to RM15 billion (US$4.63 billion) by 2012.