India-ASEAN Trade Pact to Benefit Bengal

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Aug. 18 – Bengal is expected to benefit the most from India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement signed recently because of its proximity to Thailand and Myanmar.

At a recent session on “Foreign Investment-Policy and Promotion,” Joint Secretary of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Mr. Gopal Krishna told Indian Express that since Bengal is the most important state in eastern India, a lot of countries will look at it as a gateway of exports.

According to Mr. Krishna, with this agreement, the state will get an access to the US$1.7 billion ASEAN market. He said: “Kolkata is the only metropolitan city in the region. It is also the main trading hub for the entire eastern and north-eastern region.”

He added: “The other states will look at Kolkata as a center to carry out trade with ASEAN, but the agreement will also bring about challenges in the manufacturing sector, which needs to become more competitive.”

The FTA will eliminate duty on 80 percent of the goods traded between India and the ASEAN group. There are possibilities that India’s north-eastern states will open their gates for goods from ASEAN.

Chris Devonshire-Ellis, managing partner of Dezan Shira & Associates in India told India Briefing: “Hopefully, Bengalis can now unite behind this new initiative and start to look more reasonably at how trade and investment from and with ASEAN can assist them rather than being led by politicians more interested in self-serving policies that have left the state in limbo for so long. ”

He added: “We have invested in Kolkata to assist with the development of investment and I hope to view the ASEAN agreement as the starting point of increased investment and wealth for Bengal.”

Dezan Shira & Associates maintain a liaison office in Kolkata. For investment enquiries or advice over Bengal state legal and tax issues, email