Academics recommend people-centered ASEAN-India partnership

 The Red Fort, photographed Friday, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Old Delhi, India.
The Red Fort, photographed Friday, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Old Delhi, India.

The second and final day of the forum between members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and India focused on connecting Delhi’s Act East Policy with the ASEAN community, which has a GDP of more than $2.2 trillion and a population of 620million people.
In his recommendations for the future of strategic partnership between India and Southeast Asia, Tan Sri Rastam Mohd Isa, chairman and chief executive of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia called for people-centred relations between the two sides, highlighting the importance of the business sector’s role.
Recognizing relations with the ASEAN as one of the cornerstones of India’s foreign policy and the foundation of its Act East Policy, which focuses on ties with Southeast Asian nations, Mr. Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East) of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, affirmed that India continues to support ASEAN’s central role in the evolving regional architecture.
In his keynote address before the academic sessions, the secretary stressed the need for India-ASEAN cooperation for maritime and cyber security, freedom of navigation, and the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law.
The seventh dialogue’s second day, held at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), in New Delhi on Thursday, comprised of academic sessions on geopolitical, socio-cultural and economic issues and the way forward for ASEAN-India relations.
During the sessions, policy makers, think tanks, academics and opinion makers made their presentations on maritime and cyber security, establishment of knowledge societies and economies and enhancement of cultural linkages and people-to-people contacts, energy cooperation, integration of regional production networks and value chains.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs of India, the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement in services and investments will come into force later this year. With the volume of trade and investments increasing at a healthy pace, India-ASEAN trade has grown 20 times in the last 20 years to reach over US $74 billion in 2013-2014.
Setting as targets trade worth $100 billion by 2015 and $200 billion by 2020, negotiations for a common ground on the regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP) are underway, the ministry said.

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