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SUBMITTED TO DR. JAMES MANALEL
2/19/2010 MBA-IB SMS, CUSAT
Table of Contents
Table of Contents...................................................................................................2 ABSTRACT: ........................................................................................................... 4 SUMMARY OF AGREEMENT ON TRADE IN GOODS UNDER THE FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT ON COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC COOPERATION BETWEEN THE ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS AND THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA.......5 TARIFF CONCESSIONS..........................................................................................11 SAFEGUARD MECHANISM.....................................................................................12 OPPOSITION TO INDIA-ASEAN FTA........................................................................12 IMPACT ON INDIA................................................................................................. 13 FUTURE PLANS..................................................................................................... 15 CONCLUSION........................................................................................................16
ABSTRACT INDIA-ASEAN TRADE IN GOODS AGREEMENT SUMMARY OF THE FTA TARIFF CONCESSIONS REASONS FOR OPPOSITION IMPACT ON INDIA FUTURE PLANS CONCLUSION
The report provides an overview of the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement. It focuses mainly on the summary of the agreement signed, the tariff concessions, reasons for opposition from India and some ASEAN countries and also the impact of the FTA on India. It also summarises the future plans. INDIA-ASEAN TRADE IN GOODS AGREEMENT On 13th August 2009, India and the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) comprising Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam signed the Trade in Goods Agreement under the broader framework of Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) between India and the ASEAN. The Agreement has come into force on 1st January 2010 in respect of Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. In the case of other countries, it will come into force after they complete their internal requirements. Along with the Trade in Goods Agreement, the following related Agreements have also been signed: (a) Protocol to Amend the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, (b) Agreement on Dispute Settlement Mechanism under the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and (c) Understanding on Article 4 of the Trade in Goods Agreement under the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Anand Sharma, the Commerce and Industry Minister, who signed the agreement for India, remarked “This is a historic development, given rising engagement between India and ASEAN and the enhanced economic cooperation. This agreement will open new opportunities for multi-sectoral engagement”. Bilateral Trade The Trade in Goods Agreement would further boost bilateral trade between India and the ASEAN. ASEAN is a major trading partner for India and accounts for 9.42% of its global trade. In the financial year 2008-09, bilateral trade between India and ASEAN was almost US$ 45 billion. India and ASEAN have set a target of achieving bilateral trade of US$ 50 billion by 2010 which is likely to be achieved.
SUMMARY OF AGREEMENT ON TRADE IN GOODS UNDER THE FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT ON COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC COOPERATION BETWEEN THE ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS AND THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA
Scope This Agreement shall apply to trade in goods and all other matters relating thereto as envisaged in the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Republic of India. National Treatment on Internal Taxation and Regulations Each Party, an ASEAN Member State or India, shall accord national treatment to the goods of the other Parties in accordance with Article III of GATT 1994, which shall apply, the necessary changes having been made, to this Agreement. Article III of GATT 1994 is mentions about the functions of WTO, which implies the implementation, administration, operation, and furthers the objectives, of this Agreement and of the Multilateral Trade Agreements, and shall also provide the framework for the implementation, administration and operation of the Pluri-lateral Trade Agreements. The WTO may also provide a forum for further negotiations among its Members concerning their multilateral trade relations, and a framework for the implementation of the results of such negotiations, as may be decided by the Ministerial Conference. With a view to achieving greater coherence in global economic policy-making, the WTO shall cooperate, as appropriate, with the International Monetary Fund and with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and its affiliated agencies. Tariff Reduction and Elimination As per the agreement each Party shall gradually liberalize, where applicable, applied MFN tariff rates; shall include in-quota rates and shall in the case of ASEAN Member States (which are WTO Members as of 1 July 2007) and India, refer to their respective applied rate as of 1 July 2007, except for products identified as Special Products and in the case of ASEAN Member States (which are non-WTO Members as of 1 July 2007), refer to the rates as applied to India as of 1 July 2007, except for products identified as Special Products in the Schedules of Tariff Commitments; in the Schedules of Tariff Commitments on originating goods of the other Parties. Nothing in this Agreement shall prevent any Party from unilaterally accelerating the reduction and/or elimination of the applied MFN tariff rates on originating goods of the other Parties as set out in its tariff reduction/elimination.
Transparency Article X of GATT 1994(i.e. the attainment of transparency) shall be incorporated as an integral part of this Agreement. The basic "transparency" obligation requires contracting parties to ensure prompt publication of laws and regulations affecting imports and exports so that foreign governments and traders may clearly understand them. It provides increases in customs duties and more burdensome restrictions on imports may not be enforced until such measures have been officially published. Administrative Fees and Formalities In order to minimize impediments to trade due to customs procedures, fees charged by customs officials must be limited to the approximate cost of customs services; they are not to be used for protective or fiscal purposes. Contracting parties decrease and simplify their documentation requirements, and not impose substantial penalties for minor breaches of customs regulations such as clerical errors. Rules of Origin The Rules of Origin and Operational Certification Procedures applicable to the goods covered under this Agreement. They are • Where a tariff heading or sub-heading is subject to alternative Product Specific Rules, it shall be sufficient to comply with one of the rules. • Where the Product Specific Rule requires only regional value content, the final process of production must be performed within a Party. • A requirement of a change in tariff classification applies only to non-originating materials. • Where the change in tariff classification rule expressly excludes a change from other tariff classifications, the exclusion applies only to non-originating materials. Non-Tariff Measures 1. Each Party shall: (a) not institute or maintain any non-tariff measure on the importation of goods from the other Parties or on the exportation or sale for export of goods destined for the territory of the other Parties, except in accordance with its WTO rights and obligations or other provisions in this Agreement; and (b) Ensure the transparency of its non-tariff measures allowed under subparagraph (a) and their full compliance with its obligations under the WTO Agreement with a view to minimizing possible distortions to trade to the maximum extent possible. 2. The Parties reaffirm their rights and obligations under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade in Annex 1A to the WTO Agreement and the Agreement on the
Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures in Annex 1A to the WTO Agreement, including notification procedures on the preparation of relevant regulations to reduce their negative effect on trade as well as to protect human, animal or plant life or health. 3. Each Party shall designate its contact point for the purpose of responding to queries related to this Article. Modification of Concessions 1. The Parties shall not nullify or impair any of the concessions made by them under this Agreement, except as provided in this Agreement. 2. Any Party may, by negotiation and agreement with any other Party to which it has made a concession, modify or withdraw such concession made under this Agreement. In such negotiations and agreement, which may include provision for compensatory adjustment with respect to other goods, the Parties concerned shall maintain a general level of reciprocal and mutually advantageous concessions not less favorable to trade than that provided in this Agreement prior to such agreement. Safeguard Measures Safeguard measures are used by a party to protect its domestic industries from the imports of goods which are absolute or relative to domestic production. Every party, which is a WTO member have the right to initiate a safeguard measure. All the communication and documentation regarding safeguard measures shall be in writing and shall be in English. The agreement on safeguard shall not be subject to the agreement on dispute settlement mechanism under the framework agreement. Safeguard measure should be within the transition period for that good. The Transition period for a good shall begin from the date of entry into force of this agreement and end five years from the date of completion of tariff reduction/elimination for that good. These measures can be maintained for an initial period of 3 years and may be extended for a period not exceeding 1 year. A Party taking safeguard measure may a) b) Suspend further reduction of tariff rate for that good. Increase Tariff rate for that good. Safeguard measure cannot be applied to a good originating in the party if its contribution to total imports is less than 3 percent from other parties. In the case of getting compensation, exporting parties shall seek the good office of joint companies to determine the substantially equivalent level of concessions and this should be completed within 90 days from the date on which safeguard measure was applied. The parties concerned shall be free to suspend the application of tariff concession if a compensation request is not received within the timeframe.
The termination of a safeguard measure will result in further reduction of tariff rate. When a Party intends to apply, pursuant to Article XIX of GATT 1994 and the Agreement on Safeguards or Article 5 of the Agreement on Agriculture, an action on a good to which safeguard measure is being applied, it shall terminate the safeguard measure prior to the imposition of the action. Measures to Safeguard the Balance of Payments Nothing in this Agreement is giving way to prevent the Party from taking measures with regards to balance of payments. Individuals/companies taking such measure will do in Concurrence of opinion with the conditions established under Article XII of GATT 1994 which is Article XII of GATT – Accession 1. Any state or separate customs territory possessing full autonomy in the conduct of its external commercial relations and of the other matters provided for in this Agreement and the Multilateral Trade Agreements may accede to this Agreement, on terms to be agreed between it and the WTO. Such accession shall apply to this Agreement and the Multilateral Trade Agreements annexed thereto. 2. Decisions on accession shall be taken by the Ministerial Conference. The Ministerial Conference shall approve the agreement on the terms of accession by a two-thirds majority of the Members of the WTO. 3. Accession to a Plurilateral Trade Agreement shall be governed by the provisions of that Agreement. And the Understanding on Balance of Payments Provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 in Annex 1A to the WTO Agreement. General Exceptions Each firm retains its rights and obligations under Article XX of GATT 1994, which is included, and changing those things which are to be changed are also included in the agreement. Nothing in the agreement implies the following meanings: Secured information of the companies / firms/ individuals is to be kept confidential. The secured information may be of the following types: Fissionable materials where they come from, action relating to the traffic in arms, ammunition and implements of war either directly or indirectly. Action taken so as to protect critical communications infrastructure from deliberate attempts intended to disable or degrade such infrastructure, action taken at critical time of war or other emergency in international relations.
Prevent parties from taking any action in fulfilling its obligations under UN for maintaining international peace and security. Customs Procedures Customs procedure should be transparent. Customs should provide fast and precise info with all relating details which the firm must be made aware of. Parties are to be made themselves aware of the procedures in customs clearance so a smooth operation can be taken out. Regional and Local Governments ASEAN – The article 15 of the agreement implies that, all the member countries can take reasonable measures to ensure that the state, regional local governments & authorities within its territories do abide by the rules & regulations of the agreement and strictly implement them. The measures can be taken in accordance with the provisions of the article 24.12 of GATT 1994 and the Understanding on the Interpretation of Article XXIV of GATT 1994. Relation to Other Agreements Article 16 deals with the relation of the ASEAN with other agreements. Each member country of this agreement can reaffirm their rights and obligation to the WTO agreements and also to other agreements to which it is Party. No condition of the ASEAN agreement shall be interpreted and reflected to be less serious, with regard to the WTO agreement or any agreement to which these parties are party.When there is a state of inconsistency between this agreement and any other agreement to which two or more parties are party, such parties should immediately consult with a view of finding a mutually satisfying solution. The Free Trade Agreement shall not apply to any agreement among ASEAN member states or to any agreement between ASEAN member states and India, unless and otherwise agreed by the parties to that agreement. Joint Committee Article 17 of the agreement refers to the establishment of a joint committee to coordinate & ensure the proper implementation of the agreement. The Joint Committee shall be composed of representatives of the Parties and may establish Sub-Committees and delegate its responsibilities to these sub- committees. The Joint Committee shall also meet at such venues and times as may be mutually agreed by the Parties. The functions of the joint committee includes : (a) Review the implementation and operation of this Agreement (b) Submit a report to the Parties on the implementation and operation of this Agreement
(c) Consider and recommend to the Parties any amendments to this Agreement (d) Supervise and coordinate the work of all Sub-Committees established under this Agreement (e) carry out other functions as may be agreed by the Parties. Dispute Settlement Article 18 refers to the method of resolving the various disputes concerning the interpretation, implementation or application of this agreement, which has to be done in accordance with the procedures and mechanisms as set out in the ASEAN - India Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM), agreement. Review The ASEAN FTA establishes an "FTA Joint Committee" to review the implementation and operation of the FTA and recommend any amendments to it. The FTA Joint Committee will meet within one year of the FTA entering into force and thereafter as the Parties (ASEAN member states and India) agree. A general review of the ASEAN FTA will take place in 2016, and every five years thereafter. This review provides the opportunity to accelerate or expand the commitments under the ASEAN FTA. Annexes and appendices will be an integral part of this agreement. In future ASEAN member states and India may adopt legal instruments according to the provisions made by the agreement and also proposed by the joint committee. Once these are into force the instruments become integral part of the agreement. These agreements can be amended through agreements between the parties on written basis. Any amendment will come into force when all the parties have agreed on the internal procedures.
Under the Trade in Goods Agreement, Schedules of Tariff Commitments have been drawn by all Parties indicating product-wise tariff concessions or no concessions. The tariff commitments of India are divided in the following categories: Tariff Elimination: Tariff is gradually eliminated on Normal Track 1 – 7775 products (at HS code 8 digit level) through annual cuts between 1.1.2010 and 31.12.2013 Normal Track 2 – 1252 (at HS code 8 digit level) products through annual cuts between 1.1.2010 and 31.12.2016 Tariff Reduction: Tariff is gradually reduced Sensitive Track – to 5% on 1805 (at HS code 8 digit level) products through annual cuts between 1.1.2010 and 31.12.2016 Highly Sensitive Track – to 37.5% on Crude Palm Oil, 45% on Refined palm Oil, Coffee, Tea and 50% on Pepper through annual cuts between 1.1.2010 and 31.12.2019 Exclusion (Negative) List: No tariff concession is offered for 1297 products (at HS code 8 digit level). Each country (excluding Singapore) has maintained an Exclusion (Negative) List to address its respective domestic sensitivity. India has excluded a large number of items from the list of tariff concessions to address our sensitivities in agriculture, textile, auto and chemical sectors. It may be noted that India insisted and ensured a large Negative List despite ASEAN’s reluctance. ASEAN has very small or no Negative List in its FTAs with China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Key items that have been given protection through the Negative List are: Vegetables – Tomato, onion, garlic, ginger, carrot, radish, cauliflower, cucumber, peas, beans, chilli, capsicum, potato, etc Fruit/Nuts – coconut, copra, cashew kernel, areca nut, betel nut, banana, pineapple, guava, mango, oranges, grapes, raisin, apple, lemon, watermelon, papaya, cherries, etc Spices - chilli powder, nutmeg, vanilla, cardamom, fenugreek, coriander seeds, cumin, turmeric, mustard seeds, poppy seeds, etc Cereals/Grains – rice, wheat, maize, sorghum, jowar, bajra, ragi, malt, etc Oilseeds/Oils - soyabean, groundnuts, linseed, rapeseed, sunflower seed, soya oil, groundnut oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, etc Fish/Fisheries – Trout, Sole, Tuna, Herring, Cod, Sardine, Mackerel, Hilsa, Dara, Seer, Pomfret, Cuttlefish, Shrimp, Prawn, Crab, Lobster, processed Tuna, Caviar, etc
Others - natural rubber, tobacco, roses, carnations, orchids, milk, butter, ghee, natural honey, starches, sugar, jaggery, tapioca, etc Textiles – Woven Fabrics of Cotton including dhoti, saree, shirting, casement, upholstery, etc, polyester yarn, certain synthetic fabrics of filament yarn, etc Auto – Cars, buses, 3-wheelers, lorries, trucks, chassis, brakes, clutches, silencers, safety belts, etc Chemicals – Kerosene oil, Diesel, Aviation Fuel, Zinc Oxide, Red Oxide, Distemper, Herbicides, Disinfectants, etc. Timelines for Tariff Commitments have also been indicated by all Parties along with the annual tariff cuts to be undertaken starting from is January 2010. The end dates for achieving all the desired end-rates of tariff are: 31st December 2019 for India and ASEAN-5 (namely, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand), 31st December 2022 for India and the Philippines and 31st December 2024 for New ASEAN Member States (namely, Cambodia, LaoPDR, Myanmar and Vietnam). For India’s agreed tariff lines, tariff elimination would be achieved in two phases – by 31st December 2013 and 31st December 2016.
The Agreement provides for a safeguard mechanism to address sudden surge in imports on account of tariff concessions. When a surge is likely to hurt the domestic industry, safeguard measures including imposition of safeguard duties can be initiated to prevent or remedy serious injury and to facilitate adjustment for the domestic industry. A Party shall have the right to initiate a safeguard measure any time during the transition period. The transition period begins from the date of entry into force of the Agreement and ends five years from the date of completion of tariff reduction or elimination. For instance, if a surge in import of palm oil causes or threatens to cause a serious injury to the domestic edible oil industry, India can invoke safeguard measure anytime during 1.1.2010 to 31.12.2024.
OPPOSITION TO INDIA-ASEAN FTA
The contours of the deal because the reason for political opposition- both within and outside the United Progressive Alliance. Senior Members of Parliament and Congress members from southern states had expressed reservation at the FTA. In addition, Kerala Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan sent a missive to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, warning him of the adverse impacts of the deal on the fisherman and plantation sector
of the state. However, the state government of Kerala is concerned that bringing down duties for tea, coffee; palm oil and rubber could hit the local farmers and industry hard. With the Indo-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA), agricultural experts, fishermen's representatives, trade union leaders and Kerala's Marxist Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan had been at pains to convince the pro-reform central government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the deal should be postponed or even scuttled. Pressure from Indonesia & Malaysia: Indonesia and Malaysia, which had pushed the hardest for paring of duties by India on palm oil, continue to express their displeasure over the levels agreed to by the two sides. The two countries could create trouble in getting the treaty ratified by their respective governments, the official added. This, however, may not turn out to be a big problem as the India-Asean FTA can be implemented even if a couple of countries do not get it ratified immediately.
IMPACT ON INDIA
The Agreement would lead to growth in bilateral trade and investment resulting in economic welfare gains to India. Indian exporters of Machinery & Machine Parts, Steel & Steel Products, Oilcake, Wheat, Buffalo Meat, Automobiles & Auto Components, Chemicals, Synthetic Textiles, etc would gain additional market access into the ASEAN countries. Indian manufacturers would be able to source products at competitive prices from the ASEAN markets. Despite concerns raised by the Indian industry and objections raised by some ASEAN countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, allaying their fears by some give and take and concluding an amicable agreement is an achievement, though inordinately delayed. It is a major step in India’s “Look East” policy in reducing its dependence on trade with U.S. and E.U. and turning towards South East Asia will strengthen its regional dynamics. China has already an FTA with ASEAN, perhaps on more favourable terms. By this FTA, India, though not by way of competition, will have access to this flourishing market and ASEAN will reduce its heavy dependence on China. The omission of software and information technology from the FTA is a set back as it is in this sector where Indian exporters could have brought in good business especially with the down turn in the U.S. markets. Trade The deepening of ties between India and ASEAN is reflected in the continued buoyancy in the trade figures. The trade grew by 13 per cent during April-September 2007-08 to US$ 17.02 billion as against US$ 15.06 billion during the same period in 2006-07. ASEAN is India’s fourth-largest trading partner after the EU, US and China. IndoASEAN trade, which has been growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27 per cent since 2000, stood at US$ 38.37 billion in 2007-08. The bilateral trade between India and the ten-member ASEAN now stands at US$ 48 billion annually.
Singapore The growing bilateral economic relationship is reflected in the rapidly rising bilateral trade between Singapore and India. The cumulative FDI inflow to India from Singapore during April 2000-April 2009 was around US$ 7.9 billion. Singapore continues to be the single largest investor in India amongst the ASEAN countries with FDI inflows into India and the second largest amongst all countries, rising to US$ 3.45 billion in 200809. FDI inflows from Singapore between April-July 2009 stood at US$ 759 million, taking the cumulative inflows from April 2000 - July 2009 to US$ 8.57 billion. The total bilateral trade during 2007-08 was US$ 15.49 billion and India exported goods worth US$ 6.6 billion in April-December 2008-09. ICICI Bank is all set to become the second Indian financial institution to get a fullfledged banking license in Singapore, which will allow it to set up branches, ATMs, take deposits and disburse loans like a local bank. State Bank of India is already a fully recognized bank in Singapore. Malaysia The bilateral economic relationship between India and Malaysia has been steadily moving ahead. Malaysia has been a huge source of FDI for India. In fact, Malaysia is the twenty-fourth largest overall investor and second largest investor among ASEAN countries with a total inflow of US$ 233.74 million during April 2000-July2009. Bilateral trade among the two countries amounted to US$ 10.5 billion during 2008-09. During the same period, US$3 8.7 million worth of Malaysian investments in India were primarily in sectors like construction, real estate and business services. India is the ninth-biggest investor in Malaysia. However, there is huge potential for collaboration in the automotive, ICT, pharma and biotechnology, machinery and supporting engineering industries and services sectors like education and tourism. Myanmar During the period April-December 2008-09, India exported goods worth US$ 173.28 million to Myanmar comprising mainly of iron and steel and pharmaceuticals. FDI inflows from Myanmar into India totalled to US$ 8.96 million during April 2000-July 2009. Bilateral trade stood at US$ 995.37 million during 2007-08. In April 2008, India and Myanmar signed the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement, which will enable both nations to prevent tax evasion and ensure that business profits are taxed only in the country where the company has a permanent establishment. Indonesia During the period April-December 2008-09, India exported goods worth almost US$ 1.82 billion to Indonesia, comprising mainly of organic chemicals, mineral fuels and
ships and boats. The trade target likely to be achieved by 2010 is US$ 10 billion. FDI inflows from Indonesia into India totalled to US$ 51.90 million during April 2000-July 2009. Moreover, India and Indonesia have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors. Thailand Bilateral trade between the two countries touched US$ 4.11 billion in 2007-08, as compared to US$ 3.18 billion in 2006-07, registering a growth of 28.97 per cent. During the period April-December 2008-09, India exported goods worth almost US$ 1.44 billion to Thailand. Total FDI inflow during April 2000-July 2009 from Thailand was US$ 55.36 million. The sectors that have witnessed Thai investment are telecommunication, hotel & tourism, food processing, trading and chemicals. With the signing of the free trade agreement (FTA) between India and ASEAN countries, Thailand is targeting US$ 10 billion bilateral trade in 2010. Vietnam Bilateral trade grew to US$ 1.77 billion in 2007-08 from US$ 1.14 billion in 2006-07. During the period April-December 2008-09, India exported goods worth almost US$ 1.13 billion. Philippines Bilateral trade between India and Philippines was worth US$ 823.69 million in 200708. During the period April-December 2008-09, India exported goods worth almost US$ 574.22 million to Philippines. Cambodia During 2007-08, bilateral trade between the two countries stood at US$ 56.32 million in 2007-08. India exported goods worth US$ 35.94 million in April-December 2008-09, chiefly comprising pharmaceuticals, coffee, tea, spices and cotton.
India and ASEAN are currently negotiating Agreements on Trade in Services and Investment which are targeted to be concluded by August 2010. ASEAN provides a great potential for export of services by India. ASEANs total trade in services is US$ 280.90 billion compared to India’s US$ 137.50 billion in 2006.They are expected to reach a conclusion on investment this year and then services later, turning the FTA into a more comprehensive pact. India has made requests in a number of areas including teaching, nursing, architecture, chartered accountancy and medicine as it has a large number of English speaking professionals in these areas who can gain from job
opportunities in the ASEAN region. India is also keen on expanding its telecom, IT, tourism and banking network in the ASEAN countries.
On the strategic front, there has been a remarkable improvement in the ties between India and the ASEAN member countries. ASEAN and India share a range of concerns, including energy security, sustainable development, the protection of the environment and the fight against terrorism. There can be no doubt that a closer partnership between India and ASEAN will be a win-win situation for both the parties. The ASEAN countries with large populations and consumption patterns are important drivers of growth. With a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$ 2.3 trillion as of now, they together will create a new free trade area of 1.7 billion people and cover 11 countries.
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