The ASEAN trade ministers on Wednesday expressed their serious concern over the rising food and oil prices across the world stating that it could hurt growth and trade.

The trade ministers also called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday and conveyed their sentiment to him on the issue.

Malaysian International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the trade ministers also discussed the India-ASEAN FTA on services and investment. “We hope it can be concluded by end of this year.

This was also the subject we raised with the Prime Minister when we met him this morning," Mr. Mohamed said.

The Trade Ministers were accompanied by Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma. The Commerce Minister apprised Dr. Singh of the progress in India-ASEAN relations. Mr. Sharma informed that the Prime Minister had invited all the heads of ASEAN countries to India for the first summit to be held in Delhi soon.

“We are concerned over the issue of rising commodities prices and oil price. It will affect economic growth and the trade volume will decrease. We hope we can manage it at national, regional and global level,'' Mr. Mohamed said at the India-ASEAN International Trade Fair.

In the last 11 months food prices have skyrocketed nearly 29 per cent in the international markets, where prices of wheat, corn, sugar and edible oils shot up. Food inflation in India has nearly touched 17 per cent in recent months.

"The impact on India is a major concern but it is under control. If India can manage food security, it can create stability in the region," Lim Hng Kiang, Singapore's Trade and Industry Minister said.

Mr. Sharma also acknowledged that the spurt in global food prices could harm fragile economies. ``Food inflation is a challenge in Asia and around the global today. The issue was discussed today,'' he remarked.

Keywords: food pricesASEAN

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