ASEAN India Business Council for Trade Expansion, Greater Connectivity with India
12 August 2016
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) India Business Council (AIBC) called for opening of trade between India's northeastern states and the ASEAN region, and enhancement of ASEAN-India connectivity, in a meeting with India Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman.
The AIBC, expressing their willingness to cooperate with the Government of India, proposed sending a business delegation to Northeast India, beginning in Assam, in September. It also proposed measures to boost ASEAN-India connectivity, including:
- Finalization of the ASEAN-India Transit Transport Agreement before completion of the India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) trilateral highway;
- Separate negotiation for the IMT transit and transport agreement—a landmark cross-border transport facilitation agreement between the countries of South Asia and Southeast Asia—and explore its potential to be extended to the entire ASEAN region;
- Special visa arrangements, such as an India-ASEAN Travel Card for AIBC members, to encourage business and people-to-people exchange;
- More streamlined processing for movement of skilled workers between India and the ASEAN region;
- An annual ASEAN Trade Fair—with India as guest country—to promote trade, investment, and manufacturing ties; and
- Review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement, including consideration of liberalization of tariffs on products included in the Sensitive Track and Exclusion List.
Minister Sitharaman, highlighting India's 'Act East' policy, emphasized the Government of India's drive to accelerate economic growth between India and the ASEAN countries through bilateral and multilateral measures. She requested a comprehensive consultation on existing tariff and non-tariff barriers between ASEAN and India, and recommended that these issues be addressed prior to the next round of discussions between ASEAN Economic Ministers and India.
AIBC also held a meeting with ASEAN economic ministers where it presented a 14-point agenda with recommendations aimed to strengthen economic ties and ease the flow of trade between India and ASEAN.