NEW DELHI, Dec 18 (IANS): India and 10-nation Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) are expected to conclude negotiations on a free trade agreement on services and investment Wednesday, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said Tuesday.
"Tomorrow is the ministerial meeting where we would be able to finalise on the last leg of our negotiations on the ASEAN-India free trade agreement on services and investment," Sharma said here, inaugurating the second India-ASEAN business fair.
Trade ministers of all ASEAN member nations were present on the occasion.
Services and investments were the two remaining "pillars" of the India-ASEAN economic cooperation after the existing FTA on merchandise goods was signed in 2009, Sharma said.
Added Cambodian Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh: "We may be able to give you good news tomorrow."
"It will be a game-changer for the nature of economic relations between the two zones," said Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan.
Sharma said the existing FTA in goods with the Southeast Asian grouping that came into effect in 2010 had yielded rich dividends by way of a 30 percent rise in annual trade that could touch $100 billion by 2015.
"We are aiming that the trade between the two sides will touch $100 billion by 2015."
Currently, the trade between India and ASEAN is at $80 billion.
India is also negotiating a market opening agreement bilaterally with the members of the bloc.
Srirat Rastapana, director-general in Thailand's Department of International Trade Promotion, said talks between India and Thailand for the market opening accord may be concluded by next month.
"We are at the last leg of negotiations. We started with early harvest scheme. FTA will help to drive economic relationship bilaterally," he said.
The latest FTA is expected to pave the way for talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Wirjawan said the FTA in services would be announced at this week's Asean-India Commemorative Summit, although its implementation could take up to a year.
Heads of all 10 ASEAN countries and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are scheduled to attend the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit beginning Dec 20.