New Delhi: India and the 10-member Asean on Thursday reviewed the past 30 years of Partnership, and agreed to further strengthen and deepen the Strategic Partnership for mutual benefit, achieve full potential of the Asean-India trade and economic partnership, strengthen connectivity, and stressed on the need for early completion and operationalisation of the Trilateral Highway.
The Co-Chairs’ Statement on the Special ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held Thursday in Celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the ASEAN-India Dialogue Relations, noted the millennia-old civilisational and cultural linkages between Southeast Asia and India and reaffirmed its commitment to further deepen this broad-based partnership to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
The statement appreciated India’s firm commitment to ASEAN Centrality in the evolving regional architecture and the meeting welcomed India’s support for the ASEAN Community-building process, including through the support for the projects and initiatives under the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025, and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plans.
The Meeting agreed to further strengthen and deepen the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership for mutual benefit, across the whole spectrum of political, security, economic, socio-cultural and development cooperation by utilizing relevant existing ASEAN-led mechanisms.
To reaffirm the commitment to multilateralism founded on the principles of the international law including the Charter of the United Nations, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)and other relevant UN treaties and conventions, maintain an open and inclusive regional cooperation framework, support ASEAN Centrality in the evolving rules-based regional architecture, uphold multilateralism in jointly responding to regional and global challenges.
To continue advancing the effective implementation of the Plan of Action to Implement the ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity (2021-2025).
To explore potential cooperation between the AOIP and Indo-Pacific Ocean’s Initiative (IPOI) initiated by India, in areas such as maritime cooperation, including maritime security, maritime connectivity, the Blue Economy.
To achieve the full potential of ASEAN-India trade and economic partnership including through enhanced utilization and effective implementation of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area (AIFTA) by the early commencement of the review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) to ensure that it is more user friendly, simple and trade facilitative for businesses.
To strengthen regional connectivity, including both physical and digital, and explore synergies between the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity 2025 and India’s connectivity initiatives under India’s Act East Policy, in line with “Connecting the Connectivities” approach.
The Meeting emphasised the need for the early completion and operationalisation of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and looked forward to its eastward extension to Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam, as well as supporting and collaborating with the ASEAN Smart Cities Network. It also emphasised the need for more robust air and maritime connectivity.
To develop an open, secure, interoperable and user-empowering digital connectivity ecosystem, in view of the importance of digital platforms for improved access in areas such as healthcare, education, finance, etc.
To enhance cooperation in the field of Defence through the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus and welcomed the proposed ASEAN-India Defence Ministers Informal Meeting in November 2022 and the proposed ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise.
To address the inter-dependent challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss by deepening cooperation for sustainable management of natural resources and greater utilisation of renewable, clean and low-carbon energy.
To strengthen cooperation in the fields of healthcare, agricultural research, fintech, and Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).
The Meeting also agreed to cooperate in vaccine production and distribution, research and innovation in generic medicines, cooperation on traditional medicines.
To deepen understanding and strengthen Inter-Parliamentary dialogue through greater ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) and India parliamentary exchanges.
To continue enhancing people-to-people connectivity in socio-cultural fields
To continue promoting Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) development and preparing them for digital transformation.
To explore potential synergies with sub-regional frameworks, such as, the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) the BIMSTEC, and Mekong sub-regional cooperation frameworks, including Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) and to support ASEAN and India’s efforts in promoting equitable development by aligning sub-regional growth with the comprehensive, mutual growth and development of ASEAN and India.
To work towards a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between ASEAN and India that is meaningful, substantive and mutually-beneficial by further enhancing ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership.