Kolkata, Jan 9 (IANS) With the FTA in Services and Investments with Asean yet to be operational, the trade between India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region is unlikely to reach $100 billion by 2015, an expert said here Friday.
Speaking at the Indian Chamber of Commerce organised event “Look East” to “Act East”, Indian Council of World Affairs Director General Rajiv K. Bhatia said the free trade agreement (FTA) in services and investments with the region, inked in September 2014, should have been signed a lot earlier.
“The FTA in Services and Investment should have been signed at least three years ago. With the agreement becoming operational only from July this year, it is highly unlikely that India will be able to achieve its target of reaching $100 billion from the current $78 billion,” said Bhatia.
The central government in December had announced that it was expecting the two-way trade between India and Asean to reach $100 billion by 2015 and to double the figure by 2022.
Lamenting the low volume of trade with CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) region, Bhatia called for attracting more investments from the Asean to India.
“Asean must hurry to make the FTA on investment and services operational. Besides enhancing its exportability, India must immediately act to attract greater investments from Asean.
“Moreover, India Inc. cannot remain satisfied with just 10 billion dollars of business with CLMV. We need to work hard to multiply it to three to four times in the next three years,” Bhatia added.
Speaking on the occasion, Pooja Kapur, Joint Secretary (Asean), Ministry of External Affairs, said that India was working closely with South East Asian countries to enhance its connectivity with Asean in all aspects- physical, institutional and people to people.
“Asean is our bridge to the larger Asia-Pacific region and enhanced connectivity in terms of infrastructure is crucial. The trilateral highway, which when completed will provide seamless connectivity from Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar, said Kapur.
Kapur also said that India was exploring the possibility of extending the trilateral highway to Laos and Cambodia and eventually to Vietnam.
She also said the work was in progress on the Kaladan multimodal project that would provide a road and riverine link between Mizoram and Myanmar and connect Indian ports to Myanmar’s Sittwe port.
“While the FTA on services and investments is on its way to be operational, India is also part of ongoing negotiations for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which includes Asean and six of its dialogue partners–Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand apart from India,” Kapur added.