Sign no FTAs till new govt gets in,Manmohan tells ministries

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is believed to have directed all the ministries not to make any offers on free trade with any nation and refrain from signing any agreement till a new government takes office by May-end.....

Written by Press Trust Of India | New Delhi | Published: March 11, 2009 1:47 am

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is believed to have directed all the ministries not to make any offers on free trade with any nation and refrain from signing any agreement till a new government takes office by May-end.

The Prime Minister’s directive,which came after general elections were announced,would postpone signing of the India-ASEAN and India-South Korea free trade pacts.

“The Prime Minister has put an embargo on signing of any new FTAs or other trade agreements till a new government is in place,” a senior commerce ministry official said,adding that the ministries had also been asked not to make any trade-related offers during bilateral meetings with countries. Many believe that the Prime Minister put an embargo on the FTAs as model code of elections had come into force and such important policy issues would need to be looked into after polls.

Commerce minister Kamal Nath had said a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement between India and 10-nation economic bloc Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations) could be signed in April.

A delegation of European Commission is scheduled to visit New Delhi to discuss India-EU free trade agreement in the coming weeks. India-South Korea trade pact is also ready for signing but this now stands deferred till the formation of new government.

Five phased Lok Sabha polls are scheduled from April 15 and counting of votes would be taken up on May 16. The new government is likely to be in place by late May.

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