Kathmandu, July 31 :

Despite BIMSTEC free trade area (FTA) agreement having been scheduled to come into force from July 1, 2006, it could not happen due to political situation in Thailand. Member countries of the BIMSTEC Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) have failed to meet the deadline on ‘trade-in-goods’ for tariff reduction in the meeting held from July 25 to 28 in Colombo.

ASEAN members, namely Thailand and Myanmar who are alos members of BIMSTEC, are thinking more liberally to boost free trade while South Asian countries are still found to be hesitant about free trade as they are still new in this regard.

Naindra Prasad Upadhyaya, joint secretary at the ministry of industry, commerce and supplies and chief of Nepali delegation informed that discussion on fast track, normal track and negative list that comes under trade in goods is still going on.

Upadhyaya said that it is a continuing process to negotiate trade issues regarding tariff reduction and negative list of products.

BIMSTEC trade negotiation committee meeting was held from July 25 to 28. The four-day long meeting was held in Colombo. BIMSTEC comprises of Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.

Nepal also submitted a list of products that only mentions 10 per cent of the total 5,224 products to be treated under the fast track, proposing that these products’ tariff should go down to zero by 2011 as per the BIMSTEC framework agreement, said Upadhyaya.

Every member state has agreed for 10 per cent reduction and to bring their products under zero duty by 2011.

BIMSTEC members have adopted the concept of liberalising and promoting trade in goods and services with liberalised trading environment in the region. However, they are going slow to on the concept of free trade.

All member countries have agreed bring down 10 per cent of their product list to zero per cent tariff by 2011. As BIMSTEC is a composition of ASEAN and SAARC member countries, there are greater differences between them as to making the region freer trading zone in days to come. SAARC countries seem ‘conservative’, thanks to their new experience in free trade.

Twelfth meeting of BIMSTEC-TNC has also decided to exchange negative list products in the coming days, as all member countries could not agree on tariff reduction.

Under trade in goods clause, components such as fast track, normal track and negative list are being incorporated with a view to eliminate or reduce tariff on goods as per framework agreement.

The TNC meeting has decided to hold 13th meeting during the first week of September in Myanmar.