Published : Monday, 26 September, 2016 10:00 AM
India’s Gains At ASEAN Summit
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Read General Awareness Topic : India’s Gains At ASEAN Summit
India embarked upon the Look East Policy in 1991 in the backdrop of changing geopolitical scenarios arising from the breaking up of former Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). The ASEAN (which comprises Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam) was the centripetal to the Look East Policy of India. Over the last 24 years, the India-ASEAN relations have been continuously strengthened and were elevated to strategic partnership in 2012.
Indian Prime Minister participated in the 14th India-ASEAN summit held at Laos’s capital Vientiane from September 6-8, 2016. Main points of India-ASEAN Summit which India in the long run are as under –
- The ASEAN and India Leaders agreed to continue enhancing the partnership between ASEAN and India that would contribute to the promotion of peace, stability, and prosperity in theregion. Both the sides noted priority areas during the period of 2016-18 that would be required successful implementation of ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity(2016-2020).
Both India and ASEAN are at that stage of economic development where they cannot afford to derail the development process. For that matter it is of utmost important for both the sides to ensure peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
- Both the sides recognised the threat of terrorism to the peace and stability of the region. ASEAN and India support the early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT), currently under negotiation at the United Nations.
Terrorism is currently the most potent threat for most developing countries in the world The CCIT once came into effect would criminalise all forms of international terrorism and deny the access to funds, arms and funds to the terrorists, their financers and supporters.
India too suffers from one of the worst form of cross border terrorism. During the summit, Indian PM called pointed towards Pakistan for exporting terror. In order to defeat the nefarious designs of terrorists, a close cooperation is required which would include sharing of information and intelligence regarding movements of illegal arms and funds.
- Both sides recognised the vital importance of the planned review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods (AITIG) Agreement.
The total bilateral merchandise trade between India and ASEAN in 2015 amounted to USD 58.7 billion which is about 2.6% of ASEAN’s total trade. It is nowhere near the potential. The AITIG will help in improving India’s share in ASEAN trade and if released, it will be instrumental in bridging the Indian trade gap.
- Both the sides encouraged the remaining members of ASEAN to ratify the ASEAN-India Trade in Services and Investment Agreements (AITSIA) that would the economic relations of India and ASEAN to a new level.
India’s comparative advantage lies in services Vis a Vis industry. An earlier implementation of AITSIA will be catalyst in the trade relations of India and ASEAN and improve their economic relations. A strong economic partnership between India and ASEAN will also change the face of the north-eastern region of India which remains of the most backward region of the country due to the neglect of decades.
- Both sides agreed to enhance maritime cooperation that would reduce the logistic costs and improve the trade.
More than 90% of the world trade takes place through sea routes. An increased maritime cooperation is one of the most important prerequisite to make the trade relations beneficial for both the sides.
- Both sides noted the implementation of Plan of Action (POA) on ASEAN-IndiaCooperation in Food, Agriculture and Forestry (2011-2015). Now they would prepare for successor POA (2016-17) with the aim of enhancingproductivity of agricultural products and meet the challenges of food security in the region.
Unlike the other developed countries, where during the course of development, a shift was seen in the occupational pattern where people switch over from agriculture towards industry and services. But in India, the share of agriculture consistently decreased on overall GDP but same was not witnessed in agriculture and still majorities of workforce is employed in agriculture. A close cooperation in agriculture will help in improving the lives of more than 50% of the country’s workforce that earns its livelihood from agriculture.
In order to encourage the R&D and technology development programmes, the amount in ASEAN-India Science andTechnology Development Fund (AISTDF) was increased from USD1.0 million to USD5.0 million.
Indian expenditure on R&D is less than 1% of the GDP in comparison to 2.7% by the US, 3.5% by Japan and 4.2% by South Korea. R&D is playing an instrumental role in the growth of all the sectors of economy be it agriculture, industry or services. Though India is currently the fastest growing major economy but it has potential for much faster growth. The enhanced cooperation on R&D will help both India and ASEAN in realising their potential.
- Both sides emphasised the importance of maintaining peace, security and stability,unimpeded commerce, freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South ChinaSea.
China has territorial disputes with many members of ASEAN including Vietnam, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. It had even threaten of using military power to lay its claim in South China Sea. India Chinarelations are not very cordial these days and its recent refusal to endorse India’s membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and to have sanctions against the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM, a Pakistan based terror outfit) leader have irked India. By supporting the ASEAN nations, India can achieve a geopolitical advantage and can put pressure on China.
Thus the interests of ASEAN and India are complementary to each other and both can grow enormously with cooperation in trade, agriculture, industry, education and geopolitical strategies etc.
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