labels: industry - general, economy - general, trade
US signs trade and investment pact with Asean, India still negotiatingnews
25 June 2006

Mumbai: The US has signed a trade and investment pact with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), even as India said it is reviewing - for a fourth time in a row - a list of sensitive items given by the Asean for resuming stalled talks for a free trade agreement.

At the end of their meeting, India''s commerce minister Kamal Nath and the Asean''s trade negotiating committee agreed to further deliberate and narrow the differences over the proposals on FTA modalities.

The two sides also agreed that negotiations in trade in services and liberalisation of investment would commence once substantial progress was made in trade in goods negotiations.

US trade representative Susan Schwab signed the trade and investment framework arrangement (TIFA) that would help enhance flow of goods and ensure better protection for patented drugs originating from America.

TIFA will help enhance flows of goods via the development of the Asean Single Window. US trade officials said the TIFA will bring in new US funds for capacity building projects and spur investor confidence.

The Asean and US, meanwhile, urged WTO members to demonstrate flexibility to help put the Doha Development Round back on track before end of 2006. They also agreed to help Vietnam and Laos gain membership into WTO. The two sides outlined several joint programmes and said they will establish a joint council on trade and investment to implement the TIFA.

The two also agreed to work together to develop "harmonised standards for pharmaceutical registration and approval, which will speed the delivery of innovative medicines to Asean patients," the joint statement added.

The US, however, singled out Myanmar, saying that the agreement will not change the serious concerns Washington has on human rights.

 search domain-b
US signs trade and investment pact with Asean, India still negotiating