India and Indonesia will begin talks on Tuesday for a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with an aim to take forward the economic cooperation to a new level by achieving a bilateral trade target of $25 billion by 2015. Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma on Monday reached Jakarta to launch the formal negotiations with Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu.

Trade and investment between India and Indonesia had seen a massive rise in the last few years with investment by Indian companies having touched $3.50 billion and another $25-billion worth of investments in the pipeline.

Although both countries in 2005 had set a target of $10 billion bilateral trade by 2010 but they surpassed the target by 40 per cent reaching the $14-billion level. Already during the January-July period this year, trade between the two countries had touched $13 billion.

The proposed CECA will not only break tariff walls on merchandise trade but also enable professionals from the two countries to take up short-term business assignments in each other's markets. The scope would also cover easing of bilateral investment regime.

Mr. Sharma will also attend the Biennial Trade Ministers Forum during his stay in Jakarta.

Apart from holding talks with his counterpart Ms. Mari Elka Pangestu, he will discuss issues of mutual interest with senior Indonesian ministers. The CECA with Indonesia will be over and above the trade liberalisation already achieved through the India-ASEAN agreement. Indonesia is an important member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc. The country has also implemented a comprehensive pact with other ASEAN members — Malaysia and Singapore.

Bilateral trade between India and Indonesia stood at $13.2 billion in 2010 but it is highly skewed in favour of the South East Asian country. India's exports to Indonesia were $3.3 billion against imports of $10 billion.

Keywords: CECAtrade tiesASEAN

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