ASEAN- A Regional Organisation and India
“ASEAN as a regional organisation has great significance for India” Evaluate the statement.
Introduction: Background of ASEAN and its objectives.
Body: Mention the significance to India- Economic, strategic, security, socio-cultural etc.
Conclusion: How to achieve this/way forward
Background : Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established in 1967 to accelerate economic growth, peace and security and socio-cultural development Southeast Asia. At present ASEAN has 10 member nations - Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei.
South-east Asia is a diverse and complex region where every major culture and civilisation of the world finds a place. Since 1992, ASEAN-India partnership has evolved from sectoral dialogue to strategic partnership.
ASEAN recently has adopted the ‘ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific’ and has decided not to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Also recently, India hosted East Asia Summit (EAS) maritime conference in Chennai.
ASEAN Significance for India
- Economic Significance : ASEAN is India's fourth largest trading partner. India's trade with ASEAN stands at approx. 10.6% of India's overall trade. India's export to ASEAN stands at 11.28% of our total exports. The ASEAN-India Free Trade Area has been completed. ASEAN India-Business Council (AIBC) was set up in 2003 to bring key private sector players from India and the ASEAN countries on a single platform. Along with this few other issues are:
- 3 Cs–Culture, Connectivity and Commerce– will shape India’s ties with the ASEAN bloc.
- Connecting India's North-eastern states with ASEAN.
- India is part of ASEAN led RCEP which aims to create the world’s largest free trade area with more than a third of the global GDP and commerce.
- For the first time, bilateral trade between ASEAN and India has crossed US$ 80 billion mark.
- Singapore has become India’s investment and trading hub in the East.
- Since 2005, the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) has been the nucleus of our partnership.
- Security Significance: ASEAN occupies a central place in the security architecture of the Indo-Pacific region
- Maritime cooperation in terms of connectivity, safety and security has gained high attention(recent East Asia Summit maritime conference in Chennai. ), Delhi declaration,
- India and ASEAN can collaborate to combat terror financing, cyber security threats, tax evasions and many more.
- India needs ASEAN support in achieving a rules-based regional security architecture.
- India contributes actively to ASEAN-led fora such as the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus, and ASEAN Regional Forum.
- Geo-Strategic Significance: Geostrategycan function normatively, advocating foreign policy based on geographic factors, analytically, describing how foreign policy is shaped by geography, or predictively, predicting a country's future foreign policy decisions on the basis of geographic factors
- Partnership with ASEAN nations might help India counter the growing presence of Beijing. b) ASEAN is seen as the most successful regional organisation next only to the EU
- To develop connectivity through water, ASEAN and India are working on the Kaladan MultiModal Transit Transport Project.
- ASEAN-India cooperation in maritime domain is one of the key focus areas for growth and development of the Indo-Pacific region.
4.Socio-Cultural Cooperation: Programmes to boost People-to-People Interaction with ASEAN, such as inviting ASEAN students to India, Special Training Course for ASEAN diplomats, Exchange of Parliamentarians, etc.
- India must speed up work on connectivity projects, such as the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway, and building new trade and transport linkages with all the ASEAN Nations.
- Stronger strategic and security relations with equally strong economic ties will create greater interdependence between India and the ASEAN members.
- There are tremendous opportunities in enhancing physical and digital connectivity between India and ASEAN.
- There is still much room to expand air links to support growing business and tourism.
- A robust maritime connectivity between India and ASEAN is crucial for realization of the full potential of the India ASEAN trade.
- An alternative, economic corridor based multimodal connectivity such as Mekong-India Economic Corridor may be promoted, which will connect Indian coast with unexplored Southeast Asian coast and beyond.
- Enhanced maritime connectivity would provide lower logistic costs, and motivate increased trade in goods and services.
India’s geostrategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region depend on India’s bilateral and multilateral engagements with the countries in the region. Maintaining cordiality with ASEAN as an organisation and with the individual Southeast Asian countries remains crucial for India.