Home India News India-ASEAN trade pact inevitable, says Chandy

India-ASEAN trade pact inevitable, says Chandy


Thiruvananthapuram : Kerala’s Leader of Opposition and former chief minister Oommen Chandy Wednesday defended the proposed trade pact between India and ASEAN nations, saying the positive sides of the agreement should also be seen.

“It is now a reality and there is no way out. The country has to sign the agreement,” the Congress leader told reporters here.

His remarks came two days after Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi to apprise him of the apprehensions of the state about the country’s free trade agreement (FTA) with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The critics of the FTA say once signed, it would affect the agriculture sector in the state as import tariff on many agricultural produces will be eliminated.

Rejecting such criticisms, Chandy said the prime minister has assured steps to protect the interests of the farmers in the state.

He added that India’s trade with ASEAN countries was rising and a trade agreement was inevitable.

India’s share in business with ASEAN jumped from $6.93 billion in 2001-02 to $39.40 billion in 2007-08.

The FTA will eliminate import tariffs on around 4,000 items.

The final agreement is all set to be inked at the forthcoming meeting of ASEAN in November and will be implemented from Jan 1 next year.

However, Chandy said the prime minister has assured that of the total 489 items in the negative list, 303 items are from the agriculture sector.

According to the agreement, India will have the right to decide the tariff on the items in the negative list for 10 years.

The Congress leader also said the opposition in the state would set up an expert committee to study the agreement and its impact on the agriculture sector.