Negotiations on the India-ASEAN trade enhancing agreement have been concluded and New Delhi is set to play a greater role in South East Asian economies along with the 10-nation bloc, external affairs minister S M Krishna said in Phuket on Wednesday.
While Krishna did not indicate the date of signing the free trade agreement, known as the comprehensive economic cooperation agreement, with the Association of South East Asian Nations, he said, "Perhaps we can look forward to a very meaningful development when the Summit (India-ASEAN) takes place in October in Thailand".
He said India has a big supporting role in the South East Asian region. "We would not like to lead the movement but support South East Asian governments and enhance bilateral and multilateral engagement with them," Krishna said.
Krishna is here attending the India-ASEAN-East Asia Summit and the ASEAN regional forum ministerial meeting.
He said in the first stage, the CECA would include liberalising of trade in goods. Negotiations on opening of services trade would start later.
India has been negotiating CECA with ASEAN for the last three years. Differences on the level of protection sought by India for plantation items like crude palm oil and coffee had delayed an agreement.