Talks on Thailand-India FTA likely to meet hurdles

The Thailand-India free trade area (FTA) talks are expected to bump into a major stumbling block after a proposed revision of approved list of tariff cuts by India, seeking exclusion of petrochemicals and textiles from the list. At the latest meeting of the working group held earlier this month, India proposed to exclude petrochemical and textile products although the list of products, including those in the two categories that have already been agreed, citing the imbalance of benefits between the two countries from the agreement. The fresh proposal was expected to lead to further delays in reaching an agreement, which was earlier expected to be signed by the middle of this year. With a population of over a billion, India remains an interesting territory for Thai exports. The Thai negotiators speculated that India wanted to wait for the outcome of the regional free trade agreement talks under the India-Asean framework, which would be held from Feb 13-15. Trade between India and Asean was worth nearly US$20 billion last year and is projected to reach $30 billion by 2010 under the proposed pact.
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