You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

India to organize commemorative Asean summit to mark 25 years of partnership

LiveMint logoLiveMint 22-06-2017 Elizabeth Roche

New Delhi: India will organize a commemorative India-Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit in New Delhi to mark 25 years of partnership with the economically vibrant grouping this year or early next year.

The commemorative summit is part of a series of events including ministerial-level meetings, a business summit, a car rally and a sailing expedition, Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said in a speech on India-Asean partnership on Thursday.

“The region comprising Asean and India together represents a combined population of 1.85 billion which is a quarter of the global population and a GDP of over $3.8 trillion, creating one of the largest economic spaces in the world,” she said in her speech.

“India looks towards strengthening its relations in the region through boosting its security networks, benefiting from the ongoing economic and physical integration underway in the region as well as reviving age-old historical links with the countries of South-east Asia,” she said.

“In pursuing these goals, India is relying on strong bilateral diplomacy and active multilateral engagements, including by expanding and strengthening strategic partnerships within the region and beyond,” she said.

Asean comprises Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Vietnam.

India’s interaction with Asean began in earnest in 1992 when it became a sectoral dialogue partner of the bloc. In 1996, India’s status was elevated to full-fledged dialogue partnership.

These developments coincided with the launch of economic reforms in India and its desire to link its economy with those of the grouping to boost economic growth and improve trade and commercial linkages.

In 2002, India’s interactions with Asean were further elevated to summit-level interactions. And in 2012, the two sides declared a strategic partnership.

India is also an active participant in several Asean-related regional forums like the Asia-Europe Meeting, East Asia Summit, Asean Regional Forum, Asean Defence Ministers’ Meeting and Expanded Asean Maritime Forum.

Explaining India’s “Act East policy”, Swaraj said it aimed to “enhance India’s multi-faceted engagement with Asean and the wider Asia Pacific, and, it seeks to deepen economic integration, politico-security cooperation and socio-cultural dialogue with countries of the region for domestically better integrating” India’s northeast with India as well as with South-East Asia.

Currently, India has some 30 annual institutional mechanisms for dialogue with the Asean including a summit and seven ministerial-level dialogues in agriculture, commerce, environment, foreign affairs, renewable energy, telecommunication and tourism.

According to Swaraj, India’s relationship with the Asean rests on three pillars—political-security, economic and socio-cultural.

“The depth of our engagements can be gauged from the fact that since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power in May 2014, we have had visits by the President, vice-president and prime minister to 9 out of 10 Asean countries,” she said.

“Our Strategic Partnership has been to our mutual benefit. Together we have contributed to regional growth and stability. We hope to continue working with Asean in regional and international fora, to shape the economic and security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region,” Swaraj said.

“The partnership with Asean provides mutually beneficial gains and paves the way to benefit from the $2.5 trillion Asean economy and eventually the $21 trillion RCEP (regional comprehensive economic partnership) economy,” she added. The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between the 10 member states of Asean and the six countries with which Asean has existing free trade agreements—i.e., Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the Asean Summit in Cambodia and the agreement is scheduled to be finalized by the end of 2017.

More From LiveMint

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon