India’s presence this year at ASEAN Summit was marked by its continued fight against terrorism as well as hopes for increased economic cooperation with the ASEAN member states
The Association of South East Asian Nations or ASEAN got together this year at the Philippines for their semi-annual ASEAN Summit 2017, which saw a host of world leaders present and several events lined up. During this year’s summit at the Philippines, at the India-ASEAN summit as well as the business summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s highlighted the issue of terrorism, as it has been in several international platforms as well as bilateral meetings with several countries. Modi’s invitation to ASEAN member states for investment in India and his eagerness to extend economic ties with the members was also notably displayed at his address yesterday.
Pushing for a rules-based security architecture in the region, Modi shared, “We have individually strived very hard to fight terrorism and violent extremism. It is the time that we jointly address this challenge by intensifying cooperation in this crucial area.” Modi highlighted that this was in the interest of the region’s interests for its peaceful development. Besides the ASEAN Summit, Modi has taken to highlighting the issue of terrorism at bilateral meets with several countries such as Israel and UK, seeking to lead India as a projected peace enforcing and peacebuilding country. Even as regional tensions with Pakistan as the primary state against whom the fight against terrorism has been aimed at, hints of opposition to China’s growing power were also displayed through talks against the issue at the South China Sea.
Projecting India’s growth, Modi stated, “Task of transforming India is proceeding at an unprecedented scale. We are working day and night towards easy, effective and transparent governance,” he said. India’s ‘Act East Policy’, taking a step further from the earlier Look East Policy, puts ASEAN as well as other such regional forums in focus. Modi, bringing economics to the centre of these relations, at the business summit, shared with the leaders, “Our ties with ASEAN are old and we want to further strengthen cooperation,” adding, “1.25 billion Indians are waiting to welcome the ASEAN leaders as the Chief Guests for the 2018 Republic Day.”
Economic ties important
As per data provided by the Ministry of External Affairs, India, the trade between India and ASEAN in 2016-17 reached an approximate EUR 60 billion, making it around 10.85 pc of India’s total trade with the world.The combined ten ASEAN member states account for a combined GDP of around EUR 2.03 trillion.
Initiatives to put into place agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which seeks to promote smoother trade flow, is set to boost trade and investment ties within the region. ASEAN countries were invited to expand and further their investment in India, while Modi hoped to be showcasing India as on the path to becoming a global manufacturing hub.