The gathering featured delegates from India and all 10 ASEAN countries
The 4th meeting of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) Joint Committee concluded recently in Putrajaya (Malaysia), marking an important juncture in ongoing efforts to enhance trade facilitation and economic cooperation between India and the ASEAN member states. Held from May 7-9, 2024, the meeting was co-chaired by Rajesh Agrawal, Additional Secretary, Department of Commerce, India, and Mastura Ahmad Mustafa, Deputy Secretary General (Trade) from the Ministry of Investment, Trade & Industry, Malaysia.

This gathering aimed at revisiting the AITIGA to make it more conducive to business across the region, featured delegates from India and all 10 ASEAN countries. This review process was initiated back in May 2023 and has seen the Joint Committee meet four times to refine and advance the agreement.

The discussions in Putrajaya focused on simplifying the trade agreement to boost accessibility and efficiency, a necessity underscored by prior assessments that indicated the agreement had not delivered as significantly as expected, particularly for India.

Sub-Committee Progress and Objectives

Eight Sub-Committees have been established to tackle various policy areas within the agreement. Five of these committees have already begun their discussions, which were reported during the recent meeting. Key areas of focus include 'National Treatment and Market Access,' 'Rules of Origin,' 'Standards, Technical Regulations and Conformity Assessment Procedures,' and 'Legal and Institutional Issues.'

The meeting also provided necessary guidance to these Sub-Committees, which met physically in Putrajaya. These sessions are integral to making AITIGA more trade-facilitative, simple, and beneficial for businesses across the region.

ASEAN stands as one of India's major trading partners, accounting for 11% of India’s global trade. Bilateral trade reached a substantial $122.67 billion during the 2023-24 period. The revitalization of AITIGA is expected to further enhance these figures, benefiting economies on both sides.

The review of AITIGA is aimed at addressing several critical aspects:

Market Access: Significant focus is on recalibrating the terms to achieve a more balanced market access, which has been a primary concern for India.
Rules of Origin: Simplification of these rules is anticipated to facilitate smoother trade operations and reduce administrative burdens.
Trade Facilitation: Enhancements in trade facilitation measures, such as single window clearances, are expected to bolster trade efficiency.

This meeting also set the stage for the next Joint Committee meeting, scheduled for July 29-31, 2024, in Jakarta, Indonesia.


As negotiations progress, the aim is to forge a more resilient and beneficial economic relationship between India and the ASEAN bloc. The comprehensive review of AITIGA not only promises to strengthen ties but also to balance the trade disparities that have widened over the years. This ongoing process is a testament to the commitment of both parties to achieving a more equitable and prosperous trade partnership.