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India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement

The Indian finance minister expressed concern that the investment partnership between the two countries is limited and needs to grow

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee mentioned that the entry into force of the ASEAN-India FTA-in-Goods has contributed towards this buoyancy in trade while hoping that the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in services and investment will be completed early.

In his meeting with the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Nguyen Tan Dung in Hanoi, Vietnam, the minister added that he is not satisfied with the level of economic cooperation and trade between the two countries which, though growing, is far below potential and not even 5% of India's overall trade with ASEAN. Mentioning that this year already US$ 1 billion trade is achieved in the first quarter, Pranab expressed hope to sustain and further develop this momentum.

Further, the minister expressed concern that the investment partnership between the two countries is limited. Though there are several small Indian investors, total Indian investment is not large (US$ 200mn), he said.

He expressed hope that the US$ 5 billion TATA Steel investment would be realised soon and urged the Vietnam Prime Minister to ensure that a level playing field is provided to TATA Steel and that there is no discrimination against Indian investment

The finance minister also expects the Vietnam Government to facilitate the request of two Indian public sector banks, Bank of India and Indian Overseas Bank to open Branch Offices in Vietnam saying that the step would strengthen the economic cooperation between the two countries.

Mukherjee said that India has provided several lines of Credit to Vietnam and is willing to consider additional Lines of Credit, especially for infrastructure projects in Vietnam.

In terms of defence cooperation, ties between the two countries is robust and growing satisfactorily, he said, adding that  India will continue to assist Vietnam in the modernization of its armed forces, particularly the Navy and Air Force. India is also prepared to strengthen intelligence cooperation with Vietnam, he added.


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