Bangkok: India on Tuesday strongly supported initiatives for an integrated market to facilitate economic trade in the fast booming Asia Pacific region and advocated evolving of mechanisms for free and open trade and investment flows.

Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia told the 68th UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) session that India had been a firm believer in regional economic cooperation and integration and cited the vision of Jawaharlal Nehru towards nurturing deeper ties in the region.

"Led by its conviction to lose no opportunity to facilitate economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region, India supports initiatives for creation of an integrated market, creation of uniform regulatory standards that allow us to increase bilateral trade, creation of the necessary infrastructure for providing backup to commercial activities, harmonising our customs regimes to reduce delays and strengthening the transport connectivity across the whole region," Scindia said.

He said the world had been overtaken by successive waves of globalisation and the resultant processes of regional integration have resulted in increased bilateral or plurilateral trade, greater inflow of FDI and cooperation in fields as diverse as education or technical training.

"Despite the fact that there are tensions and fissures within all such regional alliances, the benefits far outweigh the contribution that each partner makes.

"Thus, enhancing economic integration must and will remain at the centre of the international discourse," he said.

He also advocated that the nations collectively evolve and pursue a suitable framework for accelerating economic integration by free and open trade and investment flows.

He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too had articulated his vision of partnerships in the form of Asian Economic Community which would release enormous creative energies.

"The countries in Asia have always been characterised by a strong social fabric and bonds of fraternity," the minister told the gathering.

India has so far concluded 10 Free Trade Agreements and 5 limited scope Preferential Trade Agreements and were to negotiate 17 more bilateral Agreements and expansion of existing agreements.


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