INDIA-ASEAN Relations By: Akash Agrawal
History and Evolution of the India-ASEAN Relations After its Independence in 1947, India followed a policy of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and became a champion of decolonisation, including in Southeast Asia. However, during the 1970s, India's perceived tilt towards the Soviet Union led Southeast Asia to drift away from India as both followed different economic and political ideologies. . In a major shift away from policies of the Cold War era, India adopted the "Look East Policy" (LEP) soon after economic liberalisation in 1991 to increase economic and commercial ties with East and Southeast Asian nations such as China. Over the years the policy has also concentrated on building closer ties on the strategic and security aspects in the region. . One of the major consequences of India's engagement with ASEAN has been the ASEAN- India Free Trade Agreement (AIFTA), which was seen as an essential step towards deeper economic integration
.Its initial framework was signed on 8 October 2003 in Bali, Indonesia and the final agreement was signed on 13 August 2009, coming into effect from 1 January 2010. . The FTA reduced tariff barriers to trade between India and the ASEAN countries, and included specific provisions for services trade and investment facilitation. . India was accorded full ASEAN Dialogue Partner Status in 1995, followed by its membership in the ASEAN Regional Forum. The India-ASEAN Relations soon broadened its cooperation into political as well as security arenas. India also joined the East Asian Summit (EAS) in 2005. mechanisms which meet regularly. momentum following the enunciation of the 'Act-East Policy' (AEP) at the 12th ASEAN-India . ASEAN has been a strategic partner of India since 2012. India and ASEAN have 30 dialogue . India's engagement with the ASEAN and wider Asia-Pacific region has acquired further Summit and 9th East Asia Summit in Myanmar in November 2014.
. Under the AEP, India not only expected to bolster its economic engagements with the region; it yearned to emerge as a potential security balancer as well. . Commerce, Culture and Connectivity are the three pillars of India's robust engagement with . Enhancing the connectivity in all its dimensions -physical, digital, economy, institutional and . Importance of ASEAN for India ASEAN cultural- has been at the heart of India's strategic partnership with ASEAN. . Economically: With a total population of 1.8 billion and a combined GDP of $3.8 trillion, ASEAN and India together form an important economic space in the world. Geopolitically . India expects to benefit geopolitically as well from its rejuvenated affinity with ASEAN and other regional countries.
India has attempted to demonstrate its ability to play a dynamic role in the region. India sent a strong signal to China by mentioning the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. . Maritime Importance: Freedom of navigation in the South China Sea is essential for India in order to ensure that its sea-bound trade continues uninterrupted. . Sea lanes are "life lines of global trade." India supports freedom of navigation based on United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). ASEAN is important for extending cooperation in areas such as maritime security including freedom of navigation, drug trafficking and cybercrime . Security Aspect: There are diverse areas on which India and ASEAN are jointly working, e.g. non-traditional security threats such as terrorism, human and drug trafficking, cybercrimes and piracy in the Malacca Straits, etc.
Connectivity Aspect . ASEAN-India connectivity is a matter of strategic priority for India as also the ASEAN countries . While India has made considerable progress in implementing the India-Myanmar- Thailand trilateral highway and the Kaladan multimodal project, issues related to increasing the maritime and air connectivity between India and ASEAN and transforming the corridors of connectivity into economic corridors are under discussion The highly underdeveloped NE States of India, which lie at the gateway to a region offering unlimited economic opportunities, will witness an economic transformation Energy security . ASEAN countries, particularly Myanmar, Vietnam and Malaysia can potentially contribute to India's energy security . Oil and natural gas deposits in the South China Sea region.
Trade relation with ASEAN Trade between India and ASEAN stood at US$ 65.04 billion in 2015-16 and comprises 10.12% of India's total trade with the world. . The ASEAN-India economic integration process has got a fillip with the creation of the ASEAN- India Free Trade Area in July 2015, following the entry into force of the ASEAN-India Trade in . Investment flows are also substantial both ways, with ASEAN accounting for approximately . The ASEAN-India Free Trade Area has been completed with entering into force of the ASEAN- . Conclusion of a balanced Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement Services and investment Agreements. 12.5% of investment flows into India since 2000. India agreements on trade in service and investments on 1st july 2015. will further boost our trade and investment ties with the region.
Important Issues Highlighted by PM during the EAS . 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 "But, there is one country in India's neighbourhood whose competitive advantage rests solely in producing and exporting terrorism." . For 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 and over flight, and unimpeded commerce, based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the UNCLOS
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