ASEAN-India free trade agreement depends on Thailand

January 26th, 2009 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangkok, Jan 26 (DPA) A free trade agreement (FTA) between India and South-East Asia will be signed at the upcoming summit of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) if the Thai parliament approves the pact, officials said Monday.”The ASEAN economic ministers have invited the Indian commerce minister to sign the FTA Feb 26,” said Tharit Charungvat, Thai foreign ministry spokesman.

“But the FTA is still subject to the approval of the Thai parliament as well,” Tharit added. Under Thailand’s new 2007 constitution all international agreements must first be approved by the parliament before going into effect.

Thai parliament was meeting Monday to discuss the FTA.

“All the other members of ASEAN have already agreed to the FTA,” Tharit said.

If approved by the Thai parliament, the trade pact with India will be signed the day before the 14th ASEAN Summit scheduled Feb 27 to March 1 at Hua Hin beach resort, 130 km south-west of Bangkok.

The agreement would reduce Indian tariffs to zero on 3,666 imported items from South-East Asia by the end of 2012.

ASEAN-made goods expected to gain from zero tariff include refrigerators, fans, air-conditioner parts, jewellery and ornamental goods, rubber products and plastic resins.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

A partial trade agreement that has already gone in to effect between Thailand and India covers only 82 items.

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