India on Monday said it is committed to work with other countries for early conclusion of a mutually acceptable agreement on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which will usher in freer trade among 16 countries of the region.
Minister of state (independent charge) for commerce and industry Nirmala Sitaraman, who is leading the Indian delegation to the RCEP inter-sessional ministerial meetings and related meetings, said this in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur today.
Speaking at the meetings earlier in the day, the minister ''reiterated the importance attached by India to RCEP negotiations and conveyed India's continued commitment to work with other countries to conclude a mutually acceptable RCEP agreement,'' the commerce ministry said in a statement.
The 16-member bloc comprises 10 ASEAN members and their six free trade agreement (FTA) partners, viz, India, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
The 16 economies account for over a quarter of the world economy. RCEP negotiations were launched in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in November 2012.
Sitaraman also met her Malaysian counterpart Mustapa Mohamed and the two ministers discussed issues related to the ongoing RCEP negotiations as well as ways and means to enhance bilateral trade and investment. Sitaraman welcomed greater participation from Malaysian companies in the 'Make in India' initiative.
Malaysian companies have invested around $6 billion in India over the years and additionally taken up several billion dollars worth of projects in India, especially in infrastructure and construction sectors. Both ministers agreed to take bilateral economic and commercial engagement to a much higher trajectory.
Malaysia India Business Council (MIBC) later hosted a dinner in honour of the minister, where nearly 100 CEOs from Malaysian and Indian companies participated, including from the Consortium of Indian Industries in Malaysia (CIIM).
Speaking on the occasion the minister conveyed India's commitment of India to deepen the Strategic partnership with Malaysia and make it truly multi-dimensional.
She recalled the fruitful meeting between the prime ministers of the two countries in November last year in Nay Pyi Taw and expressed the hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Malaysia later in the year will open a new chapter in our bilateral strategic partnership.
She mentioned that Malaysia was key to India's economic engagement with South East Asia and outlined the series of new initiatives taken by the Government of India to attract FDI into the country as well as improve the ease of doing business in India.
Sitaraman also invited the Malaysian business community to participate in India's growth story.