Hardeep Singh Puri: India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement review can double bilateral trade: Hardeep Puri


New Delhi: Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday said that a review of the India’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) group has the potential to double the bilateral trade. He also said that e-commerce, fintech, Artificial Intelligence and blockchain have the maximum potential for collaboration.

The Asean Agreed to India’s request for review of the FTA as the trade deficit with the 10-member grouping rose from around $5 billion in FY11 to $21.8 billion in FY19.

“He mentioned that a review of the Asean – India FTA was still pending. Once completed, he felt that it would have the potential to double trade between India and Asean,” Confederation of Indian Industry quoted the minister in a release as saying.


A ballooning trade deficit was one of the reasons that India exited the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement last year after negotiating it for seven years.

As per the release, Cambodia and Philippines suggested FTAs with India.

Cambodian Secretary of State for Commerce Seang Thay said his government was now seeking to enter into a bilateral FTA with India as the two had a long history of cooperation.

Ceferino S Rodolfo from Philippines Department of Trade and Industry said India and Philippines could work together in areas such as transport infrastructure, heavy industry, pharmaceuticals, online education among others. Besides, a bilateral FTA between India and the Philippines could also be explored.


In the aviation sector, the government is moving ahead with the privatisation of airports and this presents a huge opportunity for countries from the Indo-ASEAN-Oceanic (IAOR) region, said Puri, who is also MoS for Civil Aviation (Independent Charge).

As per the release, opening of the MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) sector also presents a major opportunity for collaboration.

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