The Hindu Businessline - 28 October 2021
Prime Minister calls for early review of India-ASEAN FTA
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for an early review of the ASEAN India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in goods that the country has been insisting on to help Indian businesses gain better market access in the region.
The PM, in his virtual interaction with leaders of the 10-member ASEAN at the 18th India-ASEAN Summit on Thursday, also proposed an India-ASEAN start-up festival.
The PM’s call for an early review of the India-ASEAN FTA received the support of all ASEAN leaders, MEA Secretary (East), Riva Das Ganguly, said at a press briefing after the meet .
It is important for India to ensure that the ASEAN agrees to a review of the FTA soon to address the problem of non-tariff barriers faced by Indian businesses. India’s trade deficit with the region has widened significantly since the FTA was implemented in 2010 and it wants the bloc to take measures to help bridge it.
"The PM also outlined the importance of technology and innovation in post pandemic economic recovery and proposed an India-ASEAN start-up festival as part of our friendship year celebration in 2022," she said.
Modi highlighted the importance of greater physical and digital connectivity between ASEAN and India and the need for cooperation in digital inclusion in ensuring a comprehensive post-pandemic recovery, the Secretary said.
Commenting on the Covid-19 pandemic, the PM said the challenging time was also a test of India-ASEAN friendship. "Our mutual cooperation in the Covid-19 era will keep strengthening our relations in future and form the base for goodwill between our people,” the PM said in his speech.
The adoption of the joint statement on the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) is one of the highlights of this summit, Ganguly said.