Minister of Commerce and Industry & Railways Piyush Goyal and Minister of Industry and Trade of Vietnam Tran Tuan Anh co-chaired the 17th ASEAN-India Economic Ministers Consultations held virtually on Saturday.

The meeting was attended by the trade ministers of all the 10 ASEAN countries – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The ministers reaffirmed their commitment to take collective actions in mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic and resolved to ensure macroeconomic and financial stability and resilient supply chain connectivity, particularly the unimpeded flow of essential goods and medicines in the region in compliance with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

The ministers’ discussion centred on the review of the ASEAN India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA). The ministers appreciated the growing trade ties and deepening economic engagement between two parties.

The ASEAN India Business Council (AIBC) Report has recommended that the AITIGA be reviewed for mutual benefit.

The ministers instructed the senior officials to start the discussions to determine the scope of the review at the earliest to, inter alia, make the free trade agreement (FTA) more user-friendly, simple, and trade facilitative for businesses.

The review will make the AITIGA modern with contemporary trade facilitative practices, and streamlined customs and regulatory procedures.

Goyal highlighted that the FTA has to be mutually beneficial and a win-win for all sides and expressed the need to strengthen the Rules of Origin provisions, work towards removal of non-tariff barriers and provide better market access.

He reiterated India’s consistent position that the review of the AITIGA has been inordinately delayed and requested for closer engagement towards finalisation of the scoping exercise, before the ASEAN-India Leaders’ Summit scheduled in November and to start the full review before the end of this year.