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India-ASEAN Relations

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India-ASEAN Relations

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General awareness on current topics is essential as not only you will be getting questions on GK in various MBA entrance exams but it will be useful for Essay writing test and WAT also. 

Today, you will read General Awareness Topic: “India-ASEAN Relations” 
 
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the Founding Nations of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. 
 
Enhancing relations with ASEAN has been central to India’s “Look East Policy” and there has been steady progress in the ASEAN-India relations since the policy was initiated in 1991. 
 
India became a sectoral dialogue partner of ASEAN in 1992, which was upgraded to full dialogue partnership in 1996. Since 2002, India had annual Summits with ASEAN.
 
ASEAN and India are both significant markets in the world economy. At the time when the ASEAN India Free Trade Agreement (AIFTA) was inked in August 2009, both had a combined market of almost 1.8 billion people and a combined GDP of US$2.75trillion. While India’s total trade volume with ASEAN is not as large as China’s but its growth trajectory is equally remarkable.
 
The theme of the summit will be ‘ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace and Shared Prosperity’. The Summit is expected to result in the adoption of the ‘ASEAN-India Vision Statement 2020’, which would chart the future direction of ASEAN-India relations. 
 
Indo-ASEAN bilateral trade reached $80 billion in March 2012, exceeding the target of $70 billion. ASEAN-India cooperation covers a wide field, including Trade & Investment, Science & Technology, Information and Communication technology, biotechnology, advanced materials, space sciences and their applications, tourism, human resource development, transport & infrastructure, health and pharmaceuticals. Several new initiatives were announced at the India-ASEAN Summit in October 2010. 
 
Co-operation between India and ASEAN is now being intensified, including in the cultural, educational and academic fields, through the promotion of people-to-people contacts, and initiatives such as the Eminent Persons Lecture Series, Youth Exchange Programmes, Special Training Courses for ASEAN Diplomats and Media Exchange Programmes. 
 
India has established Centres for English Language training (CELT) and Entrepreneurship Development Centres (EDC) in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV countries).
 
An important cornerstone of Indian engagement with ASEAN in terms of parliamentary contacts was reached when India was granted observer status at the 31st ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly at Hanoi in September 2010. This gave impetus to the people to people contacts between the people of the vibrant member states of ASEAN and the largest democracy in the world i.e. India. 
 
In the meanwhile, negotiations on the much-delayed Free Trade Agreement in Services and Investment between India and 10-nation ASEAN grouping are in the final stages and effort is being made to conclude it by December. 
 
India and ASEAN have already signed an FTA in Goods in 2009 but Services and Investment part is taking longer because of strong differences between the two sides. 
 
In a further step aimed at enhancing India’s economic engagement with South and East Asian countries, the East Asia Summit, is expected to formally announce launch of negotiations for a broad-based ASEAN Regional Economic (ARF) Partnership agreement. This is a giant step towards creation of an economic community in the region. 
 
ASEAN, the most developed regional bloc of Asia and India, the largest democracy of the world have immense potential of mutual gains. 
 
While India can attract new investments, it is also a major market for the goods and services of ASEAN. An FTA between India and ASEAN will expand the market for both the entities which will increase the income of both. 
 
The upcoming meet between India and ASEAN is likely to strengthen the relationship. Both India and ASEAN are wary of rising regional aspirations of China and their mutual cooperation is important to check the Chinese expansion. Thus not just economics, but from political and diplomatic point of view, increasing engagement between India and ASEAN are crucial for both.
 
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