Asean sets up panel to review thorny issues affecting trade deal with India
Asean economic ministers set up a joint committee to hold talks with India on issues that are obstructing a free trade deal, especially the requirement for goods to show the country of origin, which is hard to comply with, the vice commerce minister said on Wednesday.
Sansern Samalapa said the committee was established during the 19th Asean Economic Ministerial Meeting in Cambodia on September 16.
Sansern was assigned by Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit to attend the meeting on his behalf.
Apart from setting up the committee, the meeting endorsed the scope for reviewing the Asean-India Trade in Goods Agreement, or AITIGA.
The committee will be in charge of holding talks on reviewing the AITIGA, which came into effect on January 1, 2010.
So far, India has reduced import tariffs to zero per cent on 73 per cent of goods imported from Asean countries, Sansern said.
But, he hastened to add, Thai companies have been receiving little benefit from the free-trade agreement because of the strict requirement that goods must show proof of the country from which they originate.
As a result, Sansern said, the renegotiations would be a good chance to review the issue to respond to the current manufacturing structure of Asean countries. The talks would also touch on other obstacles coming in the way of the free-trade agreement between India and Asean, Sansern added.
During the meeting, the Asean ministers also discussed economic cooperation with the Asean-India Business Council.
The council called for a review of the AITIGA to be more comprehensive and to cover more products, Sansern said.
He said the council also called on Asean and India to make customs clearance more convenient for companies on both sides.
Last year, the value of bilateral trade between Asean and India was US$91.49 billion (3.37 trillion baht), an increase of 39.26 per cent from the previous year.
Asean exported goods worth $53.7 billion and imported $37.7 billion worth of products.
The value of trade between Thailand and India was $14.94 billion, an increase of 52.52 per cent, with the kingdom's exports totalling $8.5 billion and imports amounting to $4.3 billion.