Framework Agreement for FTA (that is, an agreement on time schedule for bringing about a free trade situation) was signed in October, 2003. In due course, it should lead to India becoming a full-fledged member of the ASEAN.
However, critics say that Indian time schedule for full membership is too slow. It is noteworthy that member-economies of ASEAN are growing very rapidly.
Currently, their international trade is around $720 billion and many of them are included in the top 50 importers of the world. Currently, our trade with ASEAN countries is only $ 10 billion a year. It is expected to increase to $30 billion a year by 2007.
It is a Latin American regional bloc with Argentina and Brazil as the leading members and planning to incorporate the Andean countries as well. India has already signed a framework agreement with MERCOSUR, and FTA is to be negotiated.
[Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand], Panels have been set up to negotiate FTA, but the progress is extremely slow.
An FTA is under negotiation.
A comprehensive economic cooperation agreement is being negotiated. The agreement, if successful, would go beyond an FTA.
An FTA framework was signed on 9 October, 2003.
Negotiations are on for exchange of tariff concessions.
FTA with Sri Lanka already exists, and a comprehensive economic cooperation pact is under consideration.
FTA has been arrived at.
With Nepal, we have a long standing traditional arrangement under which market access is provided on a preferential basis.
(South Asian Free Trade Agreement), signed on 6thJanuary 2004 with seven SAARC countries, viz., People’s Republic of Bangladesh, the Kingdom of Bhutan, the Republic of India, the Republic of Maldives, the Kingdom of Nepal, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
This was in sequel to SAPTA, that is, SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Preferential Trading Arrangement.
It may be added that our efforts at regional groupings and trade agreements would have met with greater success:
i. If we had done more solid homework and conducted negotiations with greater skill; and
ii. If we had better political relations with some of our neighbouring countries.