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Feasibility study on India trade pact nears completion: official

TAIPEI -- A joint feasibility study on a proposed economic cooperation agreement between Taiwan and India is expected to be completed soon, a visiting Indian trade official said yesterday.

Saurabh Chandra, secretary of India's Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, said the study is ongoing and that the results should be ready “in the next couple of months.”

“After that, the decision will be taken, and I will take it forward,” said Chandra, who is also in charge of policy matters related to external trade at India's Department of Commerce.

Chandra made the remarks while answering reporters' questions on the sidelines of a forum in Taipei to explore bilateral business opportunities.

Taiwanese media have reported that Taiwan-India trade and economic ties have grown fast in recent years despite the absence of formal diplomatic ties.

In March 2011, the reports said, the two sides began negotiating a free trade agreement and have also commissioned think tanks to study the feasibility of striking such a deal.

According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, bilateral trade grew 17 percent annually to US$7.56 billion in 2011, the highest since the two sides set up representative offices in each other's countries in 1995.

India now ranks as Taiwan's 16th-largest trade partner, as well as its 15th-largest export destination market and it 16th-placed import country for Taiwan, the ministry said.

Furthermore, the ministry noted, some 83 Taiwanese enterprises have invested in India, with the total investment amount exceeding US$1.4 billion.

Most of these investments are concentrated on the information and communication technology (ICT) industry, machinery, imports and exports, chemicals, footwear and financial services, it added.

Chandra expressed hope that the investments can “grow many-fold” in the future thanks to Taiwan's strength in manufacturing.

The manufacturing sector currently accounts for 15 percent of India's gross domestic product, and the government there intends to raise this share to 25 percent within 10 years, Chandra added.

“The synergy between the large Indian market and technology and manufacturing strength from Taiwan can bring a win-win situation for both countries,” he said.

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