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ASEAN Concludes Free Trade Talks With NZ, Australia And India

by Mary Swire, Tax-News.com, Hong Kong

29 August 2008


Talks held in Singapore this week have resulted in free trade agreements between ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and Australia and New Zealand on goods and services, and a narrower FTA between ASEAN and India on goods only.

The pacts are being viewed by the countries involved as a significant move towards linking the diverse economies of the Asia Pacific region, but also as a clear signal of commitment towards restarting the stalled Doha global trade talks.

Commenting on Thursday, Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean announced, according to Reuters, that:

"I think it's an important signal in the overall direction of what we hope to get back on track in Doha, but in its own right it stands as a significant achievement."

Although "a small number of bilateral market access issues" reportedly remain to be resolved, the agreement establishing a twelve nation free trade zone is expected to be finalized in December of this year, as is that between the ASEAN countries and India.

ASEAN member states comprise: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.


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