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43rd Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit

  • Published
    8th Sep, 2023
Context:

At the 43rd ASEAN Summit held recently in Jakarta, Indonesia, India emphasized a rules-based post-COVID world order, highlighting the importance of a free Indo-Pacific and Global South’s voice.

About ASEAN:
  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional grouping that aims to promote economic and security cooperation among its ten members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • Establishment: It was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the founding fathers of ASEAN: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
  • Aim: The motto of ASEAN is “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.
  • Secretariat: The ASEAN Secretariat is in Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • ASEAN countries have a total population of 662 million people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $3.2 trillion as of 2022.
  • ASEAN is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region.
  • India including the U.S., China, Japan, and Australia are its dialogue partners.

Key points from the summit:

  • India reaffirmed that ASEAN is the central pillar of India’s Act East Policy and it fully supports ASEAN centrality and its outlook on the Indo-Pacific.
  • India also mentioned the need for a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea should be effective and compliant with the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • India emphasized its Look East policy, as mentioned in the recent East Asia Summit held in July.

East Asia Summit is the premier forum in the Asia-Pacific region to deal with issues relating to security and defense. Since its inception in 2005, it has played a significant role in the strategic, geopolitical, and economic evolution of East Asia.

Points of discussion:

  • India proposed a ‘multi-modal connectivity and economic corridor’ linking Southeast Asia (SEA), India, West Asia, and Europe during the Asean-India Summit in Indonesia, as part of a 12-point plan to enhance relations with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) economies.
  • It also announced the opening of the embassy of India in Timor-Leste has also been announced by India.
    • Timor-Leste is an observer in the ASEAN.
  • India made comprehensive discussions, including in areas such as connectivity, maritime cooperation, digital transformation, trade and the economy, environment, health, and traditional medicine.
  • In the food security minute, millets, and agenda of food security as well as the environment were made to focus.

Significance of ASEAN for India:

  • Trade relations: The European Union (EU) is India’s third largest trading partner, while India-ASEAN bilateral trade stood at 131.5 billion dollars in 2022-23.
  • India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway: Towards its east, India is part of a push to develop a highway connecting the country to Myanmar and Thailand.
    • The 1,400-km highway, first proposed in 2002, is expected to link India to the two SEA nations by land.
  • Potential market: ASEAN constitutes the 3rd largest market in the world. This can help India utilize its export potential.
  • Convergence with Indo-Pacific strategy: ASEAN is a crucial component of India's "Act East" policy and its "Indo-Pacific" strategy, reflecting the convergence of interests in the region.
  • Countering China’s influence: Strengthening relations with ASEAN countries can serve as a counterbalance to China's influence in the region.
    Connectivity with North East: Connectivity initiatives with ASEAN can boost economic development in India's northeastern states by positioning them as a hub for regional trade and commerce.
  • Important for rule-based order: ASEAN plays a central role in promoting a rules-based security architecture in the Indo-Pacific region, which is essential for the region's stability and prosperity.
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