India and 10-member bloc of South-East Asian nations have agreed to review their free trade agreement (FTA), signed in 2009, to make it more business-friendly and boost economic ties. The two sides also decided to constitute a joint committee for this purpose. This was agreed upon during the meeting between economic ministers of ASEAN and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal in Bangkok on 10 September 2019. They met for the 16th AEM-India consultations.
 
 
What
  1. The ministers agreed to initiate the review of the ASEAN-India trade in goods agreement to make it more user-friendly, simple, and trade facilitative for businesses.
  2. The ministers tasked officials to work on the details of the review of the agreement and submit an update rather next ministerial meet.
  3. Both the sides also gained the recommendations of the ASEAN-India business council to further promote the potential of bilateral trade through the utilisation of the free trade pact as well as cooperation in some areas like financial technology, connectivity, startups and innovation. The India-ASEAN trade in goods pact came into force from January 2010.
  4. Under the pact, two trading partners set timelines for eliminating duties on the maximum number of goods traded between the two regions.
  5. The 10 ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam.
  6. The bilateral trade between the two sides has increased to USD 80.8 billion in 2018 from USD 73.6 billion in 2017.
Flashback
  1. ASEAN was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok by the five original member countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand
  2. Brunei Darussalam joined on 8 January 1984, Vietnam on 28 July 1995, Laos and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999.
  3. The ASEAN Declaration states that the aims and purposes of the Association are: (1) to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavors in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian nations.
  4. To promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries in the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter. 
  5. In 1995, the ASEAN Heads of State and Government re-affirmed that “Cooperative peace and shared prosperity shall be the fundamental goals of ASEAN.

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