Asean and Indian leaders agreed yesterday to enhance their strategic partnership and broaden cooperation in various fields to drive economic development in the two regions, the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.
The leaders met at the Asean-India Commemorative Summit in New Delhi, to mark the 25th anniversary of Asean-India Dialogue relations.
They agreed that both sides would increase cooperation in areas of common interest, especially in potential areas of development such as connectivity through infrastructure and digitalisation.
The leaders also vowed to increase cooperation in investment and trade, as they have been important investment and trade partners.
The 10-member bloc has been India’s fourth largest trading partner, while India has been Asean’s seventh largest trading partner.
Asean-India trade for 2016-17 rebounded to US$70 billion after a period of stagnant growth due to the global slowdown in trade, the India Mission to Asean said on its website.
Cumulative foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into India from Asean between April 2000 and December 2016 amounted to US$54.97 billion. The major sources of FDI from Asean countries are Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
Cumulative FDI outflows from India to Asean countries, from April 2007 to March 2015, were about US$38.67 billion with Singapore being at the top of the list, followed by Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar.
To increase two-way trade, the leaders agreed that both sides should make use of Asean-India Free Trade Areas, accelerate negotiations for the Asean-India Regional Trade and Investment Area, and promote private business cooperation.
The summit, under the theme ‘Shared Values, Common Destiny’, also agreed to promote greater cooperation in technology, science, energy, agriculture, tourism, culture, and people-to-people visits.
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith underscored the need for governments to facilitate micro, small and medium enterprises to access finance and to promote greater regional cooperation in cash crop cultivation and animal husbandry.
He also stressed the need for governments to implement measures to better facilitate trade, investment and tourism.
The premier called for India to consider providing more scholarships to Asean member countries, especially Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV).
He proposed that both sides work together to promote greater regional connectivity, including pursuing the start of direct flights between India and the CLMV countries as well as connecting the India-Myanmar-Thailand expressway to Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
PM Thongloun also asked India to consider supporting the development of a highway linking India, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, including the upgrade of some roads in northern Laos. The leaders also discussed maritime security including maritime environment and resource protection as well as precautionary measures to cope with piracy.
The summit touched upon regional and international issues of common interest including terrorism, climate change and natural disasters. The summit treasured the fruitful cooperation between Asean and India over past years.
India’s relationship with Asean has emerged as a key cornerstone of its foreign policy. The relationship has evolved from the ‘Look East Policy’ enunciated in the early 1990s which led India to become a Sectoral Partner of Asean in 1992, a Dialogue Partner in 1996, and a Summit-level Partner in 2002. This partnership was upgraded to a Strategic
Partnership during the celebration of the 20th anniversary Commemorative Summit held in New Delhi in 2012.
The Vientiane Times
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update January 26, 2018)