labels: economy - general
India pushes for a larger Asian trade blocknews
24 August 2006

Mumbai: India is supporting a Japanese proposal for an enlarged trade block that will include China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand and the 10 members of Asean.

"We strongly support it," commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath said after a meeting with his Japanese counterpart Toshihiro Nikai on the sidelines of the 38th Asean Economic Ministers Meeting (AEM).

He said India fully backed the Japanese initiative, which will result in huge economic gain for this part of the world.

Japan''s economy minister Nikai had proposed the creation of a 16-nation Pan-Asian Free Trade Area. The proposed free trade area will have economic activity worth $9 trillion, a GDP of $10 trillion and a population size of 3.1 billion.

However, Asean members insist that the pact between the grouping and Tokyo is more crucial. The group could then proceed to clinch similar single markets with China and South Korea and thereafter bring in Australia, New Zealand and India, the Asean ministers said.

Despite the tense negotiations behind doors, India said it would now study Asean''s sensitive list comprising 1,900 goods before pursuing its free trade negotiations with the 10-member grouping.

"We will be looking at the 1,900 odd list that Asean has said which can be used as an indicator of Asean sensitive list against 560 of ours and see what opportunites are there," Kamal Nath said.

He said an Asean-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was vital, as there were tremendous opportunities for both India and the Southeast Asian countries.

India''s FTA talks with Asean slowed down after Asean rejected India''s recent exclusion list with 560 items as they did not include products that were of interest to Southeast Asian economies.

India had pruned the list twice - from 1,400 items to 850 and to 560 ahead of the 38th Asean Economics Minister (AEM) meeting which concluded Wednesday.

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India pushes for a larger Asian trade block