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Posted on Nov 18, 07:50PM | IANS
India is hopeful of concluding a free trade agreement (FTA) with the 10-member Asean on investments and services by December this year, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said Sunday.
Speaking to newspersons accompanying the prime minister for the Asean and East Asia summits, Sharma said India hopes "to bring it to an early conclusion" by December when New Delhi will be hosting the commemorative summit to mark the 20th anniversary of its ties with the bloc and the 10th anniversary of ASEAN-India summit-level partnership.
India already has a free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on goods.
The FTA on investments and services is in the "final stages of being concluded", and the negotiators had met Saturday and Sunday in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to work out the details.
The two-way annual trade between India and Asean is currently USD 75 billion, with USD 40 billion being contributed by Asean countries and USD 35 billion by India, Sharma said.
The two-way investments are "fairly robust", with India so far investing in excess of USD 61 billion and Asean countries investing USD 60 billion. "The major investments are from two countries, Japan and South Korea," the Commerce Minister said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to attend the Asean-India summit in Phnom Pehn Monday.
(Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)