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Manmohan for pact with ASEAN

Thursday 30 June 2005

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the recently concluded Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with Singapore as a step towards a similar agreement with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

He has asked the high-level Trade and Economic Relations Committee (TERC) to come forward with proposals to enable forward movement on negotiations for an India-ASEAN CECA.

At a recent meeting of the TERC, he said that over the past decade successive governments have reiterated their commitment to bring India’s tariffs in line with ASEAN rates. While this would benefit India’s trade partners, he said it was necessary to place trade and investment liberalisation with respect to India’s neighbours and ASEAN countries on a "faster track."

He asked the committee to produce an annual review of the country’s external economic relations. He told the TERC: "We must enlarge our economic interaction and integration with SAARC, BIMSTEC and ASEAN and find creative solutions to overcome existing hurdles. We must become a partner in the economic progress of our neighbours."

Briefing newspersons, the Prime Minister’s media adviser, Sanjaya Baru, said the Investment Commission headed by Ratan Tata and the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Commission headed by V. Krishnamurthy were also asked to take into account the concerns of domestic industry and come forward with ideas to facilitate the transition to a more open economy, more closely engaged with all India’s neighbours in South and Southeast Asia.

See online : The Hindu

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