With eye on China, India, ASEAN to deepen partnership

The two sides agreed to achieve the full potential of ASEAN-India trade and economic partnership, including through effective implementation of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area.


representational image (iStock photo)

June 17, 2022

NEW DELHI – Against the backdrop of China’s increasing belligerence in the South China Sea, India and the ten ASEAN countries today reaffirmed their commitment to further deepen their broad-based partnership to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

The two sides also committed themselves 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, maintaining an open and inclusive regional cooperation framework, supporting ASEAN Centrality in the evolving rules-based regional architecture and upholding multilateralism in jointly responding to regional and global challenges.

In a joint statement adopted at the end of a special ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ meeting in celebration of the 30th anniversary of their relations, they 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.

In his opening remarks at the meeting attended by the foreign ministers of the ASEAN nations, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said; “ASEAN’s role today is perhaps more important than ever before given the geopolitical challenges and uncertainties that the world faces. India fully supports a strong, unified and prosperous ASEAN, one whose centrality in the Indo-Pacific is fully recognised.”

The two sides agreed 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 was more user friendly, simple and trade facilitative for businesses.

India and the ASEAN also decided to strengthen regional connectivity, including both physical and digital in line with the “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, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The meeting also welcomed ASEAN-India cooperation in preventing and countering terrorism, the rise of radicalisation and violent extremism, and combating transnational crimes through the early finalisation of the Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC)+ India Work Programme on Transnational Crime.

The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in the fields of healthcare, agricultural research, fintech, and Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). They will also work toward a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between ASEAN and India that was meaningful, substantive and mutually beneficial by further enhancing ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership.

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