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 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
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 M'sia-India To Undertake Joint Study On CECA And P

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 (Bernama) -- Malaysia and India have agreed toundertake a joint feasibility study on the Comprehensive EconomicCooperation Agreement (CECA), which includes the possibility of havingFree Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries.

Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz andits counterpart Kamal Nath, Minister of Commerce and Industry of India mettoday to discuss the terms of reference for the joint study group.

Rafidah said the study was expected to be completed within six months, andthe first meeting would be held in India, next month.

"During the process, both countries will consult its own private sector todetermine which products would be more suitable to be included in the FTAlist for implementation," she told reporters after the meeting at heroffice, here Monday.

They had also discussed about the possibilities of having "early harvest",to immediately, bring in a list of products for implementations in marketopening.

The meeting between the two ministers followed the visit by the PrimeMinister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to India in December and isaimed at a closer economic cooperation between Malaysia and India.

Elaborating further, Rafidah said the study would identify the strategicand economic benefits that could be derived from the establishment of CECAwhich encompasses a whole range of economic cooperation programmes anditems.

Rafidah said the joint study group, among other things, would develop apolicy framework for enhancing trade in goods, services and investmentincluding the feasibility of a FTA in goods and non-financial services.

"Should we find during the study that it is feasible to have the FTA, thenofficers of both countries would draw up a framework that could be agreedupon by both governments, which can be forwarded to both leaders for theiragreement and announcements during their next meeting," she said.

The study would also evolve appropriate framework and modalities forinvestment cooperation with a view to creating a favourable climate forencouraging investment flows across border.

Meanwhile, Kamal Nath said the CECA would help promote and further enhancetrade and investment linkages between Malaysia and India.

The joint study group will be co-chaired by S.N. Menon, Commerce SecretaryMinistry of Commerce India and Secretary General of MITI Datuk SidekHassan.

During the period January-November 2004, total trade between Malaysia andIndia amounted to RM14.8 billion, while exports stood at RM10.3 billion.

Bilateral trade grew by almost seven fold from RM1.56 billion in 1993 toRM12.2 billion in 2003.

During Jan to Nov 2004, a total of six investment projects in themanufacturing sector worth RM260.8 million from India were approved,including in petroleum products, activated carbon, automotive components,molds and tools and recycling of plastic products.

Malaysian investments in India from 1997 to September 2004 amounted toRM430 million, mainly in construction, palm oil plantation, softwareproduction, telecommunication equipment and electrical apparatus formedical use.


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