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Over a period of five years, India and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) negotiated a bilateral free trade agreement — with plenty of difficulty.

Under their initial bilateral framework agreement, signed in Bali on 8 October 2003, the India-ASEAN FTA for goods was supposed to be finalised by 30 June 2005. Negotiations on services would start in 2005 and end in 2007.

After a year’s delay, discussions ground to a halt in June 2006 when India released its ’negative list’ of items to be excluded from tariff reductions — with 900 products, both industrial and agricultural, figuring on the list. (This was down from India’s initial negative list of 1,410 items.) India’s agriculture ministry, in particular, was arguing hard to exclude commodities like rubber, pepper, tea, coffee and palm oil from the deal. Rules of origin have been the other thorny issue.

Two months later, in August 2006, Delhi issued a revised list, pruned down to 560 items. However, tremendous fears about the impacts of the India-ASEAN FTA on farmers continued to rattle the discussion.

By early 2007, in the midst of the new biofuels boom, palm oil became a central blockage point as Indonesia and Malaysia, both top palm oil exporters, struggled to get India to lower its tariffs.

On 28 August 2008, a deal was finally concluded. The agreement was signed in 2009 and took effect (trade in goods) with 5 of the countries and India in January 2010, (Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Myanmar and Thailand). India is pushing – without much apparent process – for a services liberalization deal with the ASEAN countries.

last update: May 2012

Asean concerned about India’s position on FTA - Abdullah
Asean has expressed its concern on India’s proposal to exclude a large number of products from tariff concessions under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
India, Asean to consider free-trade pact by ’07
India and the Association of South East Asian Nations aim to forge a free-trade agreement by the start of ’07, both sides said after a meeting on Friday.
Asean-India FTA implementation to be amended to Jan 1, 2007
Asean’s economic officials have proposed to amend the implementation of Asean-India Free Trade Area (FTA) Agreement from Jan 1, 2006, to Jan 1, 2007.
Tariff barriers with ASEAN will hurt India’s trade: study
While Singapore will emerge as a major trade partner for India in the ASEAN in services, banking and legal profession, its trade prospects in other ASEAN countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam will suffer because of protective measures, both tariff and non-tariff, which these nations are unlikely to lift until the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and ASEAN is executed by 2012.
New rules of origin approach for India-Asean FTA by mid-July
India is set to finalise new Rules of Origin (ROO), the criteria that determine the country of origin of the product, for the India-Asean Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by July 15, 2005.
New rules of origin for India-Asean FTA in July
India will formulate a new set of rules of origin (ROO) for its free trade agreement (FTA) with the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) by mid-July.
India: MTR drafts strategy for FTA with ASEAN
The Mid Term Review of the Tenth five year plan has argued that India should push for free trade areas with various regional groupings and suggested that the country reduce its Most Favoured Nation tariffs to a "very low level" in preparation for the FTA with ASEAN.
Early Harvest Programme under India-Asean FTA may be dropped
The much-hyped India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement may not include the Early Harvest Programme with government considering a proposal about whether to adopt a full-fledged FTA.
India to align ROO on ASEAN model
India will adopt the Indo-ASEAN FTA criterion for Rules Of Origin (ROO) for all the other trade pacts with Asian countries, including Thailand and Singapore.
Malaysia to push for India-ASEAN FTA
Malaysia today said it was leading the negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement between India and ASEAN and would offer a ’springboard’ for Indian corporates willing to tap the potential markets in the region.