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Trade Ministers Hold Hectic Parleys Ahead of ASEAN Meet
On the eve of ASEAN-India Summit here, their trade ministers today held hectic parleys to iron out differences leading to a possible finalisation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) after the meet.

However, there were indications that the Philippines and Indonesia may not immediately agree for the pact.

After operationalising free trade agreement in goods last year, India and the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have engaged in widening the base of the pact by including services and investments.

The talks, however, were getting delayed due to differences between India and few ASEAN members on opening the services sector.

It is believed that the Philippines and Indonesia, strong players in the global outsourcing, have some issues in liberalising the services sector.

"They may join the pact later," sources said.

With service sector contributing more than half of its economic output and its BPO industry accounting for about 15 per cent of the global outsourcing market, the Philippines has been the fastest-growing segment of the country's economy.

Out of the total 35.06 million work force in Philippines, 51 per cent are engaged in services sector. In a way, it is a strong competitor for India in the global BPO market.

India is hosting the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit to mark the 20th anniversary of their dialogue-level partnership and the 10th anniversary of their Summit-level partnership with ASEAN.

The Summit 'ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace and Shared Prosperity' will be attended by the Prime Ministers of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, the Sultan of Brunei, the Presidents of Indonesia and Myanmar and the Vice President of the Philippines.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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