India-ASEAN trade negotiation meet ends in Bhopal on positive note despite deadlock

By Pervez Bari,

Bhopal: The deadlock on the revised tariff rates continued between India and the Association of South East Asian Nations, (ASEAN), members at the end of the three-day 18th negotiation round trade meeting which concluded here in Bhopal on Wednesday.

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India declined to slash customs and excise duties beyond 50 per cent while the ASEAN group stood firm on making it at 40 per cent. The visiting delegates have termed the meet as positive and expected concrete results in the next meet in February this year. The main agenda of the meet was to enhance trade between India and ASEAN countries.

According to PK Dash, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, who headed the Indian delegation the total amount of trade is $ 30 billion at present between India and the ASEAN countries.

The stalemate continued on the matter of slashing customs and excise duties for enhancing mutual trade.

The visiting delegates urged India to slash customs and excise rates to 40 per cent, while the Indian delegation categorically stated that they could not go beyond 50 per cent as it would hurt their 4,500 small industries like tea, coffee, palm oil, paper etc.

The visiting delegates assured that they would submit fresh tariff rates after consulting their respective Governments by January 18.

The meeting included countries from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the visiting delegates were impressed with the industrial development of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and also appreciated the natural beauty of the State. They affirmed that there is lot of potential in tourism in the State and they would discuss the investment issue with their Governments. ([email protected])