1. The Third Consultation between the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) and the Minister of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of India was held in Jakarta, Indonesia on 5 September 2004. The Consultation was co-chaired by H.E. Rini M. S. Soewandi, Minister of Industry and Trade, Indonesia, and H.E. Kamal Nath, Minister of Commerce and Industry, India.
2. The ASEAN Ministers extended their warm welcome to H.E. Kamal Nath, who was participating in his first AEM-India Consultation. They took the opportunity provided by the occasion to exchange views on global and regional developments, in particular those which have influenced ASEAN and India relations.
3. The Ministers were pleased to note that from 2001 to 2003, ASEAN-India bilateral trade grew an annual rate of 11.22%, that is, from US$ 9.88 billion in 2001 to US$ 12.09 billion in 2003. Notwithstanding, the Ministers agreed that there is still much potential for growth and that the establishment of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area would provide the impetus to drive this growth.
ASEAN-India Free Trade Area (FTA)
4. The Ministers noted the progress in the negotiations for the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area. They commended the ASEAN-India Trade Negotiating Committee (AI-TNC) for their relentless effort in moving forward the negotiations. The Ministers encouraged the AI-TNC to endeavour to complete the negotiations within the deadlines specified in the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation.
5. Meanwhile, the Ministers underlined the importance of pursuing activities in the other areas of economic cooperation which may include, amongst others, the following:
(a) organization of business matching activities;
(b) facilitation of business travel;
(c) collaboration in information technology (IT) out-sourcing;
(d) investment in ICT (information and communications technology) parks;
(e) exchange of publications and information on cotton, jute, kenaf and other textile products;
(f) pilot projects in human resource development (HRD) cooperation through twinning programmes between educational and research institutes; and
(g) travel mart exhibition/promotion.
6. The Ministers were pleased to announce that the websites of the trade and investment promotion agencies in ASEAN and India have been hyperlinked in the ASEAN Secretariat website (http://www.asean.org) as of April 2004.
ASEAN-India Private Sector Involvement
7. The Ministers announced the establishment of the ASEAN-India Business Council (AIBC). The AIBC would provide the private sector perspective and feedback on initiatives aimed at broadening and deepening economic linkages between ASEAN and India. The Inaugural Meeting of the AIBC would be held at an appropriate time in the future.
8. The Ministers also welcomed the organisation of the Third ASEAN-India Business Summit, which will be held on 19-21 October 2004 in New Delhi and Chennai in India. The Ministers were optimistic of the continued success of this event which has undeniably contributed to forging closer private sector partnership between ASEAN and Indian businessmen.
LIST OF MINISTERS
- Mr. Lim Jock Hoi, Director-General, Representing Minister, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam;
- H.E. Mr. Cham Prasidh, Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce, Cambodia;
- H.E. Mr. Kamal Nath, Minister of Commerce and Industry, India;
- H.E. Ms. Rini M. S. Soewandi, Minister of Industry and Trade, Indonesia;
- H.E. Mr. Soulivong Daravong, Minister of Commerce, Lao PDR;
- H.E. Dato’ Seri Rafidah Aziz, Minister of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia;
- H.E. U Tin Winn, Minister for Economic Cooperation, Myanmar;
- H.E. Mr. Cesar V. Purisima, Secretary of Trade and Industry, Philippines;
- H.E. Mr. Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry, Singapore;
- H.E. Mr. Watana Muangsook, Minister of Commerce, Thailand;
- H.E. Mr. Truong Dinh Tuyen, Minister of Trade, Viet Nam; and
- H.E. Mr. Ong Keng Yong, Secretary-General of ASEAN.