Livemint | Aug 23 2010 | 6:19 PM IST
In 2009, India signed a comprehensive trade pact with South Korea and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). While tariff liberalization with South Africa has come into affect, only four Asean members — Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam — have operationalized the agreement. “We are convinced that our enhanced and active engagement in international trade will contribute significantly towards realizing our aspiration to become a dominant economic player,” the minister said. Besides, India is also engaged in talks with Asean members to broaden its free trade agreement to include services and investments. Several rounds of talks have already taken place.
Sharma would be meeting key ministers of Asean nations in Vietnam on 26 and 27 August and the engagements are likely to speed up the trade talks. Country’s exports were hit due to the global economic slowdown and contracted for 13-month in a row since October 2008. However, from November 2009 onwards the shipments have entered into the positive zone and government expects it to touch $200 billion this fiscal. A free trade pact (FTA) helps in increasing economic activities between the signing countries as it reduces tariff on a large number of products.