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Indo-Thai FTA may get a jolt as consensus in services eludes

Financial Express, India

Indo-Thai FTA may get a jolt as consensus in services eludes

By Huma Siddiqui

12 June 2007

NEW DELHI, JUN 11: The free trade agreement between India and Thailand may falter in the absence of consensus regarding the services sector.

While the two sides agreed to cover goods trade, Thailand has reportedly expressed reluctancy to include services in the ambit of the agreement, which was expected to be signed during the upcoming visit of Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanod.

According to sources, “The Umbrella Agreement based on the Free Trade Area Framework (signed on October 9, 2003), which was expected to be finalised by end June, may now have to wait a bit longer, before both countries agree on the services sector.”

During his three-day visit from June 25-27, the visiting prime minister will hold parleys with his counterpart Manmohan Singh and senior minister, including external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath. He will also address the industry captains at an interactive sessions organised by Ficci on June 26.

At present, hectic parleys are on between officials of the two countries to include some 4,000 items on the tariff list for duty elimination by 2011. Under the early harvest scheme of the Framework Agreement of 2003, some 82 items were identified for tariff cuts. Consequently, both countries agreed to tariff reduction on these 82 items to zero from September 1 2006.