NEW DELHI: The meeting of ASEAN economic ministers in Laos next month will discuss the review of a 15-year-old trade agreement with India.

The review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) seeks to make it more relevant to the business community and companies.

“We will discuss it at the upcoming ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Retreat Meeting,“ ASEAN Secretary-General Dr Kao Kim Hourn told Bernama on Monday.

ASEAN and India last year agreed to complete the revision in 2025.

Asked if it will be finalised next year, Kao was non-committal.

In his talks with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Kao raised the issue of India becoming part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest free trade agreement, which entered into force in 2022.

“We believe it (India joining) is in the interests of all of us,“ he said, while delivering a lecture at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) think-tank on Monday.

RCEP brings together ASEAN and its key trading partners Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

India pulled out of RCEP negotiations in November 2019, but there is a fast-track accession process in case India wants to join it.

India is ASEAN’s eighth largest trading partner. - Bernama

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