The 16th ASEAN-India Summit, part of the ongoing 35th ASEAN Summit and related summits, was attended by leaders of the 10 ASEAN countries and Indian PM Narendra Modi.
At the event, they welcomed India’s Act East Policy and active support for ASEAN’s central role and efforts to boost regional connectivity and build a community.
PM Modi affirmed India’s strong commitment to ASEAN, stressing that the bloc is at the centre of his country’s Act East Policy and Indo-Pacific outlook, and India also strongly supports the Indo-Pacific outlook of ASEAN.
At the summit, the participants noted that economic relations between ASEAN and India have been growing well over the past years with bilateral trade hitting 80.8 billion USD and India’s direct investment in ASEAN reaching 1.7 billion USD in 2018. Besides, cooperation has been strengthened in multiple spheres, bringing about practical benefits to the peoples and businesses of the two sides.
They agreed to continue promoting effective cooperation in the spirit of the Delhi Declaration, adopted at the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit to mark the 25th anniversary of ASEAN-India dialogue relations, particularly in the fields of trade-investment, marine cooperation and marine security ensuring, road and sea transport infrastructure connection and development, innovation, digital economy, adaptation to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, people-to-people exchange, and tourism.
They also welcomed economic ministers’ decision to launch review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement so as to tap into the market of over 2 billion people of both sides.
The leaders affirmed that the two sides will coordinate to speed up and finalise negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on schedule.
Additionally, ASEAN and India agreed to augment efforts to promote dialogue, cooperation, trust building, and formation of and compliance with standards of conduct, thus contributing to the maintenance of peace, security and stability in the region.
PM Modi shared deep concerns for the complex developments in the East Sea, including the militarisation and other actions that run counter to international law of the sea. He emphasised India’s advocacy for ASEAN’s stance, called for adherence to international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and voiced support for efforts to build an efficient and effective Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Sea that is in line with international law.
PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc shared other participants’ view on the developments in the ASEAN-India strategic partnership
in the recent past.
He highlighted that as both sides will enter a new phase of cooperation in 2020 with the Plan of Action for 2021-2025, they should further enhance fruitful connections in the areas of common concern and benefits like sea-based economy, development of human resources to meet requirements in the digital economy, and tourism.
The leader also underlined the importance of maintaining security and stability on seas and oceans, including the East Sea – an artery of shipping lanes of the world.
He repeated ASEAN’s principled stance on the East Sea, stressing the need to step up dialogue, build trust, form and share standards of conduct, seriously and fully implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, and build an efficient and effective COC that is in accordance with international law so as to keep the East Sea as a water body of peace, cooperation and prosperity.