Connectivity, trade infra key to enhance India-ASEAN ties
Connectivity and trade infrastructure are the key factors that can further boost India’s economic relationship with ASEAN countries, a senior government official said. “There is still huge potential to boost the economic tie. Singapore is India’s largest investment partner. It is good in transport, innovation, etc. Malaysia and Thailand are good in logistics and other sectors. India can collaborate with these countries,” said Ambassador Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). His statement comes at a time when India’s foreign trade is facing challenge after the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement between 12 countries of the Pacific Rim, which accounts for more than 40% of the global trade. Experts say that the 12-nation trade bloc would hit India’s outbound shipments that have already slumped for the tenth straight month in September. Suggesting measures to be adopted to minimize the impact of TPP, Wadhwa said, “Both ASEAN and India need to fasten domestic reforms for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). More business fair, seminars and activities should be organised to engage and promote business. Non-tariff measures also need to be addressed.” In 2009, India and the ASEAN had signed free trade agreements (FTAs) for smooth flow of goods. During 2014-15, India-ASEAN trade stood at $76.58 billion, up 74% from $44 billion during 2009-10. India and ASEAN are now concluding FTAs in services and investment sectors. Ravi Capoor, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, pointed out that the utilisation of ASEAN FTAs in goods has only been 17% because “the exporters who are mostly SMEs are not educated enough to know how to take advantage of the FTAs.” In order to revive Indian exports, Capoor also pressed the idea of joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which accounts for half of the world’s population and controls 40% of global trade. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), along with the MEA and the ASEAN-India Centre (AIC) at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), had organised the ‘ASEAN - India: Integration for Development’ roundtable to discuss challenges and opportunities to enhance India-ASEAN relations. The event was a curtain raiser to the ASEAN-India Summit to be held during November 21-23.
October 28, 2015 | 5:29pm IST.