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India and ASEAN trade ministers pin hopes on conclusion of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership by year-end

Feb 21, 2019

3-day India ASEAN Expo and Summit gets underway

NEW DELHI, 21 February 2019: The Minister for Commerce, Industry and Civil Aviation, Mr. Suresh Prabhu, today expressed the hope that the ASEAN member nations and India will collectively work in a determined manner to ensure early conclusion of a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.


Inaugurating the 4th India ASEAN Expo and Summit 2019 organised by FICCI jointly with the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Mr Prabhu said that India and the ASEAN region were set to outpace global growth which has been marked by a continuing slowdown. India, he said, was growing at 7 per cent and the ASEAN countries at 5 per cent, annually.


He invited companies from the ASEAN region to take advantage of the multifarious opportunities that are being unleashed in India in areas such as healthcare, education, tourism, financial services and artificial intelligence.


Mr Prabhu also stressed on the imperative of close collaboration between India and the ASEAN region to counter the menace of terrorism and achieve the goal of progress, prosperity and peace enshrined in India ASEAN relations.


The ASEAN trade ministers, in their remarks, outlined the strength and potential of India ASEAN trade relations, the critical need to conclude the RECP by year-end and gave a snap-shot of India's bilateral ties with each of their countries in the backdrop of the global slowdown and the moves towards anti-globalisation.


The inaugural plenary trade ministers included Dato Paduka Sidek Ali, High Commissioner of Brunei; Mr. Bounneme Chouanghom, Ambassador of the Lao People's Democratic Republic; Dato' Lokman Hakim bin Ali, Secretary General, Ministry of International Trade & Industry (MITI), Malaysia; Mr Lee Chuan Teck, Second Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Republic of Singapore; Mr. Pham Sanh Chau, Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam; Ms. Chutima Bunyapraphasara, Acting Minister of Commerce of Kingdom of Thailand; Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary General of ASEAN; Mr Pan Sorasak, Minister of Commerce, Kingdom of Cambodia; Mr. Enggartiasto Lukita, Minister of Trade, Republic of Indonesia and Dr. Than Myint, Union Minister, Ministry of Commerce, Republic of the Union of Myanmar.


FICCI-KPMG Publication on 'India-ASEAN: Co-creating the Future' was also released during the session.


Dr. Anup Wadhawan, Commerce Secretary, Government of India, underlined the need for India ASEAN countries to focus on trade facilitation and strengthening connectivity and deepen the pragmatic and dynamic relations between India and ASEAN. In this context, he said that the Department of Commerce has set up a fund to finance joint projects in ASEAN.  

Mr. Sandip Somany, President, FICCI, invoked the inspiring vision of SAGAR: an acronym given the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi. Sagar, which in Hindi means ocean, stands for Security and Growth for All in the Region. This vision is linked to India's Act East Policy by seeking to join India, especially her East and North-East, with the land and maritime partners to the east. He reaffirmed FICCI's commitment to join hands with the ASEAN partners to realise the shared dream of peace, prosperity and economic progress for the nations and its people.


FICCI-KPMG Paper suggests steps to overcome trade barriers between ASEAN and India


The FICCI-KPMG Paper titled 'India-ASEAN: Co-creating the Future' suggests the following six -point agenda to overcome trade barriers between the ASEAN region and India:

  • Both India and ASEAN set up joint committees to monitor the implementation of trade agreements and identify non-tariff barriers which can be further liberalised
  • Closer coordination and greater strategic convergence between governments can promote stability in the region
  • Mutual recognition of institutions and standards can simplify movement between the two regions
  • The need of the hour is a regional comprehensive air and maritime transport agreement
  • Enhancing air connectivity along with maritime and road linkages could create opportunities for employment and growth for both regions. For example, Completion of a proposed trilateral highway, connecting Thailand, Myanmar and India across 1360 kms. and India's flagship infrastructure programmes such as 'Bharatmala', 'Sagarmala' and 'Smart Cities Mission'� could be fast tracked with investments and expertise from international markets
  • India-ASEAN cooperation in developing agri-tech solutions for sustainable farming and efficient management of resources would not only be important for domestic markets but also for enhancing regional agri-value chains

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