Manmohan asks ASEAN nations to be reasonable on free trade pact with India

November 20th, 2007 - 8:46 pm ICT by admin  

By Naveen Kapoor
On Board Air India One, Nov 20 (ANI): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today appealed to ASEAN members to be “more reasonable” on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India.
“We are trying to persuade our ASEAN friends to be more reasonable, and I am hopeful that this process will yield a satisfactory outcome,” Dr. Singh told reporters while en route to Singapore to attend the Sixth India-ASEAN Summit and the Third East Asia Summit.
Pointing towards the problems in giving a final shape to the FTA with the ASEAN, Dr. Singh said these are related to the extent of protection that they can give on some sensitive agricultural products.
He said that there were demands from ASEAN countries on sensitive farm products, which would “adversely affect our farmers’ interest”.
Dr. Singh expressed hope that the ASEAN can resolve these issues.
He termed the bilateral trade with ASEAN as being one of “high importance to India”.
India and ASEAN have been negotiating an FTA to create a wider trading region.
The two sides are having differences on the level of duty protection for key farm products, particularly tea, coffee, pepper and palm oil.
Union Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath, who is already in Singapore, is holding hectic meetings with ASEAN trade ministers on these issues.
During his visit, Dr. Singh will push for FTA on goods with ASEAN members that are presently being negotiated. (ANI)

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