11-December, 2014 , New Delhi.The Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Commerce & Industry Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman today said that “in 2009, the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on goods had been signed (with ASEAN) and because of that and through that trade between ASEAN and India have been reaching about USD 80 billion level. We hope by 2015 it will touch USD 100 billion and get doubled by 2022. So there is lot of work, there is a lot of scope.”
Delivering the keynote address at the 2nd India – CLMV Business Conclave, here today, the Minister said that India-CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) trade was concentrated in only a few items and there was tremendous scope to deepen and widen the trade basket. The Minister mentioned that several sectors hold potential for trade and investment between India and the CLMV countries. These included skill development, agricultural products, manufacturing, project exports, energy among others.
Smt. Sitharaman said that now “India’s Look East Policy has become very sharp focussed and it is “Act East” Policy.” She said that there is a need of “greater and accelerated engagement across the globe with East Asia.” The Minister stressed that “we are very keen to open up the north-east part of India; open up the economy, improve on its connectivity with the rest of the East and therefore look at India’s North-East as threshold to our Act East Policy.” The Minister said that “Commerce, Culture and Connectivity” are the three pillars of India’s engagement with the CLMV countries.
The Minister said that “it is imperative that India deepens its trade and investment with the four countries. Currently, 70-80% of India-CLMV trade is centred around only a few products. I think there is a scope to expand the basket and bring in more commodities and manufactured goods into it.” She also pointed that “the Government of India has accorded high priority to economic engagements with the four countries, and is working towards establishing seamless physical connectivity with the region.”
Robust physical connectivity through road, rail and sea links will enable businesses on both sides to leverage the opportunities created by the India-ASEAN FTA in Goods. The FTA in Services and Investment will come into force with effect from 1st July, 2015. Seamless connectivity will spur people-to-people contacts and tourism, create new enterprises and millions of jobs for people in the region, especially when the economic corridors along the India-CLMV road and rail lines would be completely fully developed,” said the Minister.
In his address, Shri Rajeev Kher, Commerce Secretary stated that India’s trade with the CLMV region amounted to USD 13 billion in 2013-14. Much of that trade, he observed, was with Vietnam. He felt that there was tremendous scope to expand trade relations with the other countries in the region.
Mr. Kher highlighted the need to establish regional and sub-regional value chains in order to maintain and sustain long-term economic relationship with the region. He stated that India industry could partner with businesses in the CLMV countries to reach out to newer markets. He felt that by joining forces, Indian and CLMV industry could take advantage of the trade agreement architecture that the CLMV countries have to access newer markets.