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

Published: 14th Sep, 2023

Context

The 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit concluded in Jakarta, Indonesia, with the adoption of the ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on ASEAN as an Epicentrum of Growth.

About

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.
    • India including the S., China, Japan, and Australia are its dialogue partners.
  • 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: 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.

Key points from the summit:

  • India emphasized a rules-based post-COVID world order, highlighting the importance of a free Indo-Pacific and Global South’s voice.
  • 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 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.

Major Proposals

Connectivity between India and Southeast Asean nations:

  • Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM)
  • Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project (KMMTTP)
  • Mekong-India Economic Corridor (MIEC)
  • 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.
  • The two sides agreed to deepen their comprehensive strategic partnership with concrete actions through practical implementation of the 'Plan of Action' to implement the ASEAN-India partnership for peace, progress and shared prosperity.

Significance of ASEAN for India:

  • ASEAN-India dialogue relations started with the establishment of a sectoral partnership in 1992. This graduated to a full dialogue partnership in December 1995 and a summit-level partnership in 2002. The ties were elevated to a strategic partnership in 2012.
  • 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 Myanmarand 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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