A new free trade deal signed between India and the Asean bloc will cut and eventually eliminate tariffs on a range of products including textiles and ready-made garments.

The India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA), signed in the Thai capital Bangkok last week after more than six years of talks, will be effective from 1 January 2010. 

It will gradually reduce tariffs on an agreed list of products over a six-year period, with most coming down to zero or near zero levels by December 2016.

The ten-countries in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) - Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - make up India's fourth-largest trading partner after the EU, the US and China.

The value of trade between the two was $47bn in 2008.

The deal is expected to open up new markets for Indian textile products, and is in line with plans by the Indian government to reduce the textile and clothing sector's dependence on the US and EU.

It will also allow Indian manufacturers to source products at competitive prices from the ASEAN countries.