JOINT PRESS STATEMENT
1. The ASEAN Economic Ministers and the Minister from India held their first consultation in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam on 15 September 2002. The consultation was co-chaired by H.E. Pehin Dato Abdul Rahman Taib, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam and H.E. Mr. Murasoli Maran, Minister of Commerce and Industry, India.
2. The Ministers exchanged views on broad aspects of the present global economic climate in general and recent developments in ASEAN and India in particular. They expressed satisfaction with the recent trends in ASEAN-India trade, which grew by 30% from US $ 7.6 billion in 1999 to US $ 9.88 billion in 2001. The Ministers underlined the importance of sustained regional economic cooperation as a means to promote trade and investment flows.
3. Minister Murasoli Maran stated that the Government of India had announced to the Indian Parliament in 2001 that it intended to reduce its peak tariffs rates to the East Asia tariff levels within 3 years. The ASEAN Economic Ministers welcomed the statement bearing in mind the gap between the average Indian tariff and ASEAN’s average tariff. The AEM also welcomed Minister Maran’s expression of intention of having a bilateral RTIA or FTA as a long-term goal of ASEAN-India economic relations.
Study on the AFTA-India Linkages for the Enhancement of Trade and Investment
4. The Ministers were pleased with the completion of a Joint Study on AFTA-India Linkages for the Enhancement of Trade and Investment in drawing the road map for greater economic integration. The Study recommended for the formation of an India-AFTA Regional Trade and Investment Area (RTIA). The Ministers noted the broad features of this study and emphasised that the future economic integration of ASEAN and India could include, among others, the following broad issues:
(a) Market access including the removal of tariffs and NTBs;
(b) Trade and investment facilitation measures such as harmonization of standards, simplification and harmonization of documents, facilitating business travel; and
(c) Trade and investment promotion measures.
5. The Ministers exchanged views on the recommendations of the Study and agreed that while a Regional Trade & Investment Area (RTIA) between ASEAN and India should be the long term objective, the issues relating to trade and investment facilitation and promotion could be addressed immediately in order to enhance trade and investment flows between ASEAN and India.
Establishment of ASEAN-India Economic Linkage Task Force
6. The Ministers agreed to establish an ASEAN-India Economic Linkages Task Force to follow up the recommendations of the Joint Study on AFTA-India Linkages. The Task Force should submit its recommendations, including a draft framework agreement to enhance the ASEAN-India trade and economic cooperation, to the next AEM-India Consultation in 2003 through Senior Economic Officials for further consideration and follow up action. The composition of the Task Force shall include members of the private sector.
ASEAN-India Business Summit
7. The Ministers were pleased to note that India would be hosting the first ASEAN-India Business Summit in New Delhi on 17th October and in Hyderabad on 18th October, 2002 which would be inaugurated by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India. This Business Summit will bring together the policy makers, top businessmen, technocrats and professionals from these countries in various sectors of mutual interest and will provide vital economic inputs for the forthcoming First ASEAN – India Summit scheduled to be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in November 2002.
World Trade Organization
8. The Ministers expressed continuing support for the early accession of Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam to the WTO.
Preparations for the ASEAN-India Summit
9. The Ministers were pleased with the preparations being undertaken by Cambodia for the ASEAN-India Summit, which will be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in November 2002.
LIST OF MINISTERS
H.E. Pehin Dato Abdul Rahman Taib, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam;
H.E. Mr. Cham Prasidh, Minister of Commerce, Cambodia;
H.E. Mr. Murasoli Maran, Minister of Commerce and Industry, India;
H.E. Mr. Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Jakti, Coordinating Minister for Economy, Indonesia;
H.E. Mr. Soulivong Daravong, Minister of Industry and Handicrafts, Lao PDR;
H.E. Dato’ Seri Rafidah Aziz, Minister of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia;
H.E. Brigadier General David O. Abel, Minister at the Office of the Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, Myanmar;
H.E. Mr. MAR Roxas, Secretary of Trade and Industry, Philippines;
H.E. B.G. (NS) George Yeo, Minister for Trade and Industry, Singapore;
Ms. Apiradi Tantaporn, Director-General of Business Economics Department, Ministry of Commerce, Thailand;
H.E. Mr. Luong Van Tu, Vice Minister of Trade, Viet Nam; and
Mr. Tran Duc Minh, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN.