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Rough ride for some Asean FTA talks

Bernama, Malaysia

Rough Ride For Some Asean FTA Talks

10 December 2005

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 (Bernama) — Asean Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong admitted Saturday that some of Asean’s free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations were difficult, and cited talks with India, Japan and South Korea as examples.

Not all the FTA negotiations were moving satisfactorily as Asean had wished they would, he added.

"We are not satisfied with the progress made so far," he said in his speech at the opening of the third Asean Business and Investment Summit, here.

Ong said the negotiations were difficult due to the complexity of technical issues involved in aligning and harmonising national rules and practices as well as the need to overcome strong business lobbies by the countries.

He said the difficulty in negotiations with South Korea involved the Trade in Goods Agreement.

Nevertheless, he said, though the negotiations were hard, for example with India and Japan, Asean hoped to come up with something satisfactory soon.

He also said that negotiations with Australia and New Zealand had intensified, with various activities having been carried out, such as workshops to enhance capacity in dealing with the technical issues.

As for China, he said, Asean had concluded the Trade in Goods Agreement while negotiations on the Trade in Services and Investment rules were ongoing.

"It is like a ship sailing through high winds and rough seas. Now, our ship is resting in a quiet port, recharging our energy and getting ready to set sail again," he said.

Ong said Asean was committed to concluding the FTAs it was negotiating and believed that these pacts would secure its future.