Vietnam is expected to implement the Indo-ASEAN free trade agreement in the first quarter of 2010, liberalising the $2.13-billion trade with India, a commerce ministry official said.

Vietnamese Trade and Industry Minister Vu Huy Hoang during a meeting with his Indian counterpart Anand Sharma here indicated that his country would implement the Indo-ASEAN free trade agreement (FTA) in the first quarter of 2010, the official said.

The delay in implementation of FTA by Vietnam is believed to be due to the approval process.

“Their (Vietnam’s) internal approval procedure is little long...they have started the process,” the official said.

India and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) pact signed earlier this year, would, over time, allow duty free trade of 4,000 products ranging from steel to apparels to sugar to tobacco.

Duties on import and export of goods between the country and ASEAN members like Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Myanmar and Thailand would be reduced or in some cases eliminated from January 1, 2010.

The implementation of the FTA by Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos — the other four members of the 10-nation economic bloc — is also likely to be delayed by few months.

The pact would open a 1.7-billion consumer market to the member countries with a combined GDP of $2.3 trillion and give boost to trade, hit by the global recession.

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