Shri Anand Sharma, Commerce, Industry & Textiles Minister of India met Trade/Commerce Ministers from the ten ASEAN countries at Manado, Indonesia on 13 August 2011 to review, among other matters, the India-ASEAN Services & Investment Agreement negotiations. The Trade/Commerce Ministers of ASEAN, known as ‘ASEAN Economic Ministers or AEM’, and Shri Sharma met at the ninth round of the AEM-India Consultations meeting.

The Ministers reviewed the progress in the negotiations on services and investment agreement. They tasked the negotiators to step up their efforts and exhibit greater flexibility for completion of these negotiations with substance. Shri Sharma informed his ASEAN colleagues about the flexibility shown by India in these negotiations and urged them to reciprocate with improved offers. He referred to the mandate given in Framework Agreement of 2003 for negotiating a GATS-plus services agreement with substantial sectoral coverage and hoped that an ambitious and commercially meaningful pact could be reached by the Parties. The Ministers underscored the importance of the services and investment agreement to complement the Trade in Goods Agreement, in order to further enhance the economic integration of ASEAN and India.

The Ministers were pleased to note the full implementation of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement by all countries, and expressed confidence in the strengthening economic ties between the two sides.

The Ministers noted the significant increase in trade and investment between ASEAN and India in 2010. Total trade between India and ASEAN increased by 24% in 2010 reaching US$51.3 billion. India’s exports grew at 33% to US$ 23.1 billion while imports from ASEAN increased by 18% to US$ 28.2 billion. Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) inflows from ASEAN reached US$14.25 billion in May 2011 and accounted for 10.36% of India’s total FDI.

Later in the day, Shri Anand Sharma also met the Economic Ministers from the East Asian Summit participating countries – ten ASEAN Member States, Australia, China, Japan, Republic of Korea and New Zealand and exchanged views on regional and global issues affecting the East Asian region as well as developments in areas of economic cooperation within the East Asia Summit (EAS) framework. The Ministers noted the progress of the Working Groups that were tasked to look into the recommendations in the studies on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia (CEPEA). The Ministers reiterated the importance of the East Asian regional economic integration process.

Commerce, Industry & Textiles Minister also held bilateral meetings with the Trade/Commerce Ministers of Australia, Indonesia and Philippines and discussed issues of bilateral interest.

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