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Free trade with Aseans begins

Thursday, December 31, 2009 India enters free trade with Asean countries India enters free trade with Asean countries- South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia country's market-opening pacts with three of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and South Korea will be operational from Friday.The remaining seven Asean members will take a few more months to get the India-Asean trade pact, which needs to be "internally approved or ratified by their parliaments," an official said. Indian exports to Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia accounting for over 90 per cent of the India-Asean USD 44-billion trade, would also be given easy access on about 4,000 tariff items.Under the Indo-Korean Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which includes services, Indian professionals from as many as 163 sectors, including IT, English teaching, consultancy and engineering, would be eligible for temporary visas up to one year in Korea. Under this agreement, customs duties will also be reduced or eliminated on as many as 93 per cent of Korea's tariff lines which includes tyres, electrical goods, vehicle parts and petroleum products."Korea has taken commitments to give favourable considerations to Indian banks as well for opening their branches there," he said. However, India must also reciprocate on this front to move forward. In fact, half of the country's USD four billion exports to Korea would be exempted from duty right away.India and South Korea signed the CEPA on 7th August, 2009 in Seoul. The domestic industry welcomes the move saying the agreement would help double the USD 10-billion commerce between the two countries over the next five years. The CEPA with Korea is the second comprehensive deal for India after Singapore. Unlike a free trade agreement, which covers goods only, CEPA also covers investments, services and bilateral cooperation in other areas. The free trade agreement with Asean was signed on 13th August. DDNews

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