NEW DELHI: Imports of several items such as fish, apparel, cheese, tyres and construction equipment from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand will become cheaper from Friday as India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement comes into force with these countries in the first phase.

Only three of the 10 members of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are implementing the FTA with India from January 1. But they account for bulk of the $44-billion India-ASEAN trade. India’s trade with the three major ASEAN economies — Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand — stands at $40 billion.

“The Finance Ministry is expected to notify changes in the structure anytime now,” a Commerce Ministry official told PTI. As for the remaining seven members of ASEAN, they would take few more months for getting the India-ASEAN trade pact “internally approved or ratified by their parliaments,” the official added.

By March 2010, Myanmar, Brunei and Vietnam are also expected to implement the trade pact, while the rest from June, the official said.

The FTA signed in August would open the 1.7 billion people market in a phased manner, beginning 2010.

By 2016, duties of bulk of the bilateral trade would get eliminated or drastically reduced on about 4,000 products. — PTI