Part­ner­ing with ASEAN

Southasia - - 13 -

In his re­cent ad­dress at the 10th ASEANIn­dia Sum­mit in Cam­bo­dia, In­dian Prime Min­is­ter, Man­mo­han Singh re­it­er­ated the need for en­hanc­ing and fi­nal­iz­ing a free trade agree­ment (FTA) on ser­vices and in­vest­ment with ASEAN na­tions. The agree­ment will be part of the ‘Look East’ pol­icy which In­dia ini­ti­ated in 1991 in an at­tempt to forge strate­gic re­la­tions with the coun­tries lo­cated to In­dia’s East. The In­dia-ASEAN agenda was agreed upon in 2003 and at present, In­dia has a free trade agree­ment with ASEAN on goods. How­ever, Prime Min­is­ter Singh is aim­ing to add in­vest­ments and ser­vices to trans­form the FTA into a Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion Agree­ment (CECA).

The new agree­ment il­lus­trates In­dia’s de­sire to pur­sue en­hanced eco­nomic en­gage­ment with ASEAN mem­bers. More­over, it will al­low for a bi­lat­eral ex­pan­sion in trade and in­vest­ment thus adding depth and range to the In­dia-ASEAN re­la­tion­ship. Apart from form­ing en­gaged busi­ness and eco­nomic re­la­tions, the agree­ment will also pro­vide In­dia and ASEAN coun­tries with a balanced and com­plete frame­work to pro­mote peace, sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity in the Asia-Pa­cific Re­gion.

Fur­ther­more, In­dia will hold talks with ASEAN to es­tab­lish land and sea routes for the ef­fi­cient trans­porta­tion of goods and raw ma­te­rial. The con­struc­tion of a Tri­lat­eral High­way to con­nect Myan­mar, Thai­land and In­dia is sched­uled for com­ple­tion in 2016 and will boost road trade and re­duce costs of lo­gis­tics.

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