India, on Monday, expressed hope that it would be able to conclude a free trade agreement (FTA) with ASEAN nations on the contentious issues of services and investments by December 20 when it would host the two-day ASEAN summit here to mark the 10th anniversary of the summit-level partnership with ASEAN.

India and some ASEAN nations are yet to thrash out their differences on certain issues pertaining to the FTA, and the negotiations are in full gear to conclude them before the beginning of the summit on December 20. “Yes, we expect that the India-ASEAN services and investments agreement will be concluded by the time we have the Summit,” Additional Secretary in the Commerce Ministry Rajeev Kher said here at a function organised by FICCI to mark the holding of the summit in New Delhi.

After operationalising free trade agreement in goods in August last year, both the sides had been engaged in widening the base of the pact by including services and investments.

“There are few areas where differences exist. In services, we have almost concluded everything. There are just a couple of issues which need to be resolved, and we expect that it will be sorted out by the time we meet again,” Mr. Kher said.

He said that there were also some issues in the investments area.

“There are few areas of interest of ASEAN in the investments sides. But India and the ASEAN have shown promise for flexibility, and I am sure that both sides will be able to reach the mid-ground by the start of the summit,” he added.

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