The 14th Indo-Asean summit and the East Asia forum.

Why in News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Vientiane, Laos on Wednesday to attend two important meetings – the 14th Indo-Asean summit and the East Asia forum.

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Here is what you need to know about the visit:

India-Asean summit

  • This is the third summit between India and the 10-nation grouping that Modi will be attending.
  • The Asean countries— Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines and Thailand—remain central to India’s Act East policy.
  • The Asean has a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion and an annual economic growth rate of 4.6%

What kind of cooperation India has with Asean countries?

  • The cooperation between India and Asean bloc can be broadly classified into political, economic, security and cultural.
  • The ties became a strategic partnership in 2012. At present, there are 30 official and seven ministerial meetings between India and the Asean.
  • The total India- Asean trade is $6,404 billion
  • The security ties encompass maritime security, counter terrorism and cyber security.
  • Many Asean countries have territorial disputes with China over South China Sea and they don’t see the rise of Beijing as benign.

India East Asia summit

  • East Asia summit consist leaders of ten Asean countries plus China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, India, Russia and the US.
  • As a bloc, the East Asia summit forum accounts for 55% of the global population and 55% of the global GDP
  • India is closely associated with the grouping in various fields of cooperation and it includes the setting up of Nalanda University.

Highlights of 14th ASEAN-India Summit and 11th East Asia Summit

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi represented India at the 14th ASEAN-India Summit and 11th East Asia Summit in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, on 08 September 2016.
  • The two most significant issues highlighted by PM Modi during his address at EAS were: Recommending strongest action against those states that use terrorism as an instrument of state policy and outlining India’s principled stand on the South China Sea issue.
  • PM Modi commented that most countries in the South Asian region were pursuing a peaceful path to economic prosperity and without naming Pakistan remarked that, “But, there is one country in India’s neighbourhood whose competitive advantage rests solely in producing and exporting terrorism.”
  • Prime Minister said that India remained committed, including through membership of export control regimes, to pursuing total and verifiable elimination of weapons of mass destruction.
  • Elaborating on India’s principled stand on the South China Sea issue, he said that the lanes of communication passing through the sea were “main arteries of global merchandise trade”.
  • “India supports freedom of navigation, over flight, and unimpeded commerce, based on the principles of international law, as noted in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” the Prime Minister said.
  • He said India would organise the second East Asia Conference on maritime security and cooperation later this year.
  • He then braced upon another important issue of disaster management, he said that India would host an East Asia conference on disaster management and emergency response and the Asian ministerial meeting on disaster risk response later this year and has established an East Asia virtual knowledge portal on disaster management.
  • PM Modi highlighted the need for enhancing connectivity with ASEAN, which he said was central to India’s partnership with ASEAN nations.
  • In this connection, he proposed a joint task force on connectivity to work on extension of the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
  • Another area that he felt deserved focussed attention to promote India-ASEAN developmental engagement was cooperation in the field of science and technology. He proposed to enhance the ASEAN-India Fund with an additional grant of $50 million.
  • He also invited ASEAN to be the guest of honour at the International Buddhist Conclave to be held in India in October.

On the sidelines of the two summits, PM Modi also held bilateral meetings with US President Barack Obama, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, State Counsellor and Foreign Minister of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi and Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.

Highlights of the ASEAN Summit – 2016

  • ASEAN leaders discussed the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 for sustainable development, which emphasises inclusive and people-centered community growth, as also, looked at convergence of ideas to enhance cooperation with ASEAN’s external partners.
  • The ASEAN leaders endorsed the ASEAN Declaration on One ASEAN, One Response: ASEAN Responding to Disasters as One in the Region and Outside the Region. Certain other outcome documents to operationalise the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 were also signed.
  • They agreed to intensify ASEAN’s cooperation with dialogue partners and external parties through ASEAN-led mechanisms namely ASEAN Plus One, ASEAN Plus Three, ASEAN Regional Forum, ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus, and East Asia Summit.
  • ASEAN and its dialogue partners emphasised on enhanced cooperation between them in all areas to ensure more efficiency and effectiveness, particularly in cooperation in trade, investment, connectivity, tourism, people-to-people exchange and others, based on mutual benefit.
  • The other areas of concern that were discussed, included traditional and non-traditional security challenges, such as terrorism and extremism, natural disasters, climate change, irregular migration, human trafficking, etc.

ASEAN

  • The organisation came into existence on 08 August 1967. Initial members included Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, and later, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam were also included into the organisation.
  • ASEAN covers a land area of 4.4 million square kilometres, i.e. 3% of the total land area of the Earth and its territorial waters cover an area about three times larger than its land counterpart.
  • The member countries have a combined population of approximately 625 million people, i.e. 8.8% of the world’s population.
  • ASEAN as an entity ranks as the seventh largest economy in the world, behind the US, China, Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
  • ASEAN Summit is held twice a year to discuss and resolve political, economic and regional issues. Meetings with other countries, outside of the bloc are also held during the ASEAN Summit to promote external relations.
  • Bilaterally, ASEAN maintains strategic relations with Australia, Canada, and the People’s Republic of China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the Russian Federation, and the USA.

Scope of ASEAN

  • Scope of ASEAN, as highlighted in the ASEAN Declaration is to:
  • Accelerate economic growth, social progress, and cultural development in the region.
  • Promote regional peace and stability.
  • Promote collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest.
  • Provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities.
  • Collaborate for the better utilisation of agriculture and industry to raise the living standards of the people.
  • Promote Southeast Asian studies.
  • Maintain close, beneficial co-operation with existing international organisations with similar aims and purposes.
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