Partnering with ASEAN
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.