Nath to represent PM at India-ASEAN summit


Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath will represent the country at the ASEAN-India and the East Asia Summit in Thailand on April 11 and 12, but New Delhi and the 10-nation south east Asia trading bloc are still away from signing the much-delayed Fee Trade Agreement (FTA).

Nath will represent Prime Minister Manmoham Singh at the two meetings at Pattaya in Thailand as "India would be looking forward in various cooperation initiatives with ASEAN, including FTA...," a Commerce Ministry statement said.

Though negotiations on the market-opening trade pact were completed in August 2008, it could not be signed as differences on duty cuts and market protection for certain items, particularly relating to agriculture, cropped up later.

Besides, the Prime Minister Office is believed to have directed the ministry not to initiate any free trade agreement till the formation of the new Government.

A notable feature of the East Asia Summit (comprising ASEAN, India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand) this time would be a focus session with heads of international institutions like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

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