The Asean India Business Council (AIBC), a major regional group representing one of the biggest consumer markets in Asia, has presented a 14-point agenda of issues that needed to be resolved to enhance commerce and ease the flow of trade, to the economic ministers of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). Calling for close relations and opening of trade between the northeastern states of India and the Asean countries, the AIBC had a close-door meeting with union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitharaman and proposed to send a business delegation in September to the northeastern states of India starting with Assam.
Submitting the 14-point agenda of issues that needed to be resolved to enhance commerce and ease the flow of trade, the AIBC said, “The set of recommendations are aimed at strengthening economic ties and smoothening businesses between Asean and India as well as facilitating a consultative process to address the issues that stand in the way for deepening our economic engagement.”
The visit was proposed by Habib Mohammed Chowdhury, Chairman of the AIBC Laos during an earlier meeting of the Council. The AIBC members unanimously accepted the proposal and informed their willingness towards co-operation with the visiting Indian minister. Sitharaman requested a comprehensive consultation for tariff and non-tariff barriers between Asean and India and said that all issues should be addressed and flagged out before the next round of discussions of the AEM-India. She said “India’s ‘Look East Policy’ has transformed into the ‘Act East Policy’ and added thyat the government is more determined to accelerate the economic growth between India and Asean in a bilateral and multilateral environment.
The AIBC asked that the Asean India Transit Transport Agreement (AITTA) should be finalized before the completion of the Trilateral Highway and a separate negotiation undertaken for the India-Myanmar-Thailand transit and transport agreement, which could later be extended to cover the entire Asean region. It proposed special arrangements for visas of AIBC members to encourage business and people-to-people exchange such as an India-Asean Travel Card for bona-fide travellers from India to Asean. On movement of skilled workers, the AIBC proposed a simpler system to facilitate intra-region transfers between India and the Asean.
To promote trade, investment and manufacturing ties, the AIBC suggested that the AEM set up the Asean Trade Fair as an annual event to be held in Asean and India. It said the trade fair in Asean could rotate with the presidency and the first one could be held in Manila to coincide with the AEM meeting in 2017 and India could be invited as a guest country. AIBC also called for a review of the Asean-India Trade in Goods Agreement and consider liberalization of tariffs on products placed in the Sensitive Track and Exclusion List, which are excluded from tariff concessions.