Bangkok: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday, 3 October 2019 that a strong ASEAN will immensely benefit India.
The Prime Minister was addressing the 16th India – ASEAN Summit here. He said that India’s Act East Policy is a significant cornerstone of the Indo-Pacific strategy; adding that ASEAN is at the core of Act East Policy.
Modi highlighted steps being taken to improve surface, maritime, air and digital connectivity. One billion dollar Indian line of credit will prove beneficial for improving physical and digital connectivity, he said.
Prime Minister said that last year’s Commemorative Summit and Singapore Informal Summit’s Decisions implementation has brought India and ASEAN closer. India is willing to increase cooperation and partnership in areas mutually beneficial to India and ASEAN and expressed readiness to improve partnership and capacity building in the areas of agriculture, research, engineering, science and ICT.
The Prime Minister said that India wants to strengthen cooperation in the areas of maritime security and blue economy. He also welcomed the recent decision to review India ASEAN FTA saying it will improve economic partnership between the two countries.
In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister expressed happiness in being part of the 16th India – ASEAN Summit and thanked Thailand for the warm hospitality and extended best wishes to Vietnam for taking over as Chairman of next year’s Summit.
The Prime Minister met the President of Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo in Bangkok on Sunday on the sidelines of ASEAN/EAS related meetings.
PM Modi congratulated President Widodo on the start of his second term as the President of Indonesia and conveyed that as the world’s two largest democratic and plural societies, India is committed to work with Indonesia to strengthen ties in the areas of defence, security, connectivity, trade and investment and people-to-people exchanges.
Noting that India and Indonesia are close maritime neighbours, both leaders reiterated their commitment to work together for peace, security and prosperity in order to achieve their shared vision on maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. The two leaders discussed the threat of extremism and terrorism and agreed to work closely bilaterally and globally to tackle this menace.
Prime Minister Modi had a forward looking discussion on enhancing bilateral trade and highlighted the need for greater market access for Indian commodities including, pharmaceutical, automotive and agricultural products. While noting that Indian companies have made substantial investment in Indonesia, PM Modi invited Indonesian companies to use the opportunities presented in India for investment.
Modi also met Prime Minister of Thailand Gen (ret.) Prayut Chan-o-Cha on on the sidelines of 35th ASEAN Summit, 14th East Asia Summit(EAS) and 16th India-ASEAN Summit.
During the meeting both leaders reviewed the progress made in bilateral relationship and noted that frequent high level meetings and exchanges at all levels have created positive momentum in the relationship. Noting the enhanced engagement in defence and security fields, both sides agreed to explore opportunities for cooperation in defence industries sector. Welcoming 20% growth in bilateral trade last year, leaders decided to task the trade officials to discuss ways and means to enhance trade and investment.
The Prime Ministers also discussed ways to enhance connectivity between the two countries including in the areas of physical and digital connectivity. Both leaders welcomed the growing air connectivity between the two countries and start of a direct flight between Bangkok and Guwahati and also finalisation of agreements for cooperation between Ranong Port, Thailand and Indian ports in Kolkata, Chennai and Vishakapatnam.
The leaders also exchanged views on regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest.