Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Feb 13, 2004
Industry & Economy
BIMST-EC member nations evolve framework agreement
New Delhi , Feb. 12
THE member countries of the BIMST-EC Free Trade Area comprising India along with Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Nepal have evolved framework agreement to strengthen and enhance economic, trade and investment co-operation among themselves.
An official release by the Ministry of Commerce here said that at Phuket in Thailand, Trade Ministers agreed to negotiate expeditiously in order to establish a BIMST-EC FTA through the progressive elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers in substantially; all trade in goods, progressive liberalisation of trade in services with substantial sectoral coverage and establishing an open and competitive investment regime that facilitates and sub-serve investment within the FTA countries.
As per the agreement, in trade in goods, the products except those included in the negative list would be subject to tariff cut or elimination on two-tracks. In the fast track, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand would complete tariff cut or elimination to other developing countries between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2009, while to the least developed countries (LDC), the deadline would be shortened between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2007.
For Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal, the duty cut or elimination on export products from the developed countries would be between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2011 and to export products from LDC the deadline would be from July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2009.
It is clarified that products listed in the fast track by a member country on its own accord would have their respective applied MFN (most favoured nation) tariff rates gradually reduced/eliminated in accordance with specified rates to be mutually agreed by the members within the aforesaid timeframe.
Similarly in the normal track, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand would complete tariff cut or elimination to other developing countries' products from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2012 and for products from LDC parties, this would be between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2010.
For Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal, the duty cut or elimination on export products from the developed countries would be from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2017 and from exports of LDCs this would be between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2010.
On negotiations for trade in services, the thrust would be directed to progressive elimination of substantially all discrimination between or among the member countries and or prohibition of new or more discriminatory measures with respect to trade in services between the member countries, except for measures permitted under specific Article of the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services.
In order to promote investments and to create a transparent and competitive milieu, the members have agreed to provide for the promotion and protection of investment, strengthen co-operation in investment, facilitate investment and improve transparency of investment rules and regulations and enter into negotiations in order to progressively liberalise the investment regime through a positive list approach.
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