Addressing the inaugural session of the Delhi Dialogue VII, a Track 1.5 forum where policy makers and think tanks from both sides exchange ideas, Sushma Swaraj said the ASEAN-India FTA on services and investment was expected to enter into force later this year. Also Read: India-ASEAN services and investment FTA to be in force from July Must Read: Done more than previous governments to boost ties with Nepal: Sushma Swaraj Also Read: Obama reiterates ASEAN investment, pledges to strengthen ties
"This will complete our Free Trade Area with ASEAN and bring greater economic integration between our countries," she said.
She said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has "underscored the government's resolve to move with a great sense of priority and speed to transform India's hitherto 'Look East Policy' into an 'Act East Policy'.
The ASEAN-India trade and investment has been growing steadily and the bloc was India's fourth largest trading partner, she said.
The annual trade stood at over USD 76 billion in 2013, having registered an average growth of 22 percent a year over the past decade. She said inking of the FTA in goods in 2009 has given a spurt to bilateral trade.
"However, we need to make a special effort to achieve our target of enhancing trade to USD 100 billion by 2015, and our aspiration to double it to USD 200 billion by 2022," she said.
"We will have to significantly augment the utilisation level of the Agreement on Trade in Goods and further liberalise the tariff lines. I am glad that the process has started to revive the ASEAN-India Trade Negotiations Committee to kick-start these discussions," she added.
Noting that India has maritime boundaries with several ASEAN countries, she said it was important from a trade perspective.
"We have started negotiations on an ASEAN-India maritime transport cooperation agreement, and hope that it will be finalised by the end of the year," she said.
She said ASEAN lies at the core of India's 'Look East' policy and at the "centre of our dream of an Asian century".
She said India and the ASEAN countries need to intensify cooperation in security, trade, investment, connectivity and capacity building and strengthening people-to-people linkages.
The minister said there has been progress on the Trilateral Highway project which proposes to provide seamless connectivity from Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand via Myanmar.
Negotiations have also started on an India-Myanmar-Thailand Transit Transport Agreement. She said work was in progress on the Kaladan Multimodal Transport Project which will provide a road and riverine link between Myanmar and Mizoram as well as connect Indian ports to Sittwe port in Myanmar.
"Our experiment with a dedicated fortnightly freighter service with Myanmar has proven to be a commercial success. We plan to commission a study soon to see if this experiment can be replicated, both for cargo and passenger services, with other Southeast Asian countries," she said.
Referring to Modi's announcement at the 12th ASEAN-India Summit for establishing a Special Facility to facilitate project financing and quick implementation of connectivity projects, she said the government was working out its modalities.
She said India will soon implement a space project, which will be the largest project under the ASEAN-India Fund, involving setting up of a tracking and data reception station and data processing facility at Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam by ISRO, upgrading of the Biak Station in Indonesia and provision of training for space personnel from all ASEAN countries.
Addressing the inaugural session of the Delhi Dialogue VII, a Track 1.5 forum where policy makers and think tanks from both sides exchange ideas, Sushma Swaraj said the ASEAN-India FTA on services and investment was expected to enter into force later this year.
Also Read: India-ASEAN services and investment FTA to be in force from July
Must Read: Done more than previous governments to boost ties with Nepal: Sushma Swaraj
Also Read: Obama reiterates ASEAN investment, pledges to strengthen ties