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