An Indian minister has stated that strong trading bond between India and ASEAN (Southeast Asian Nations) can defeat protectionism. Indian Commerce Minister – Suresh Prabhu was speaking about trading challenges in an evolving world at the inaugural session of India-ASEAN Expo and Summit in Delhi.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is an ambitious trade agreement being negotiated between the ten ASEAN countries and their six free trade partners include Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. The ten ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos, and Vietnam.
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership would create the world’s largest free trade bloc covering 3.5 billion people and constituting 30 per cent of the world’s GDP, 30 per cent of global trade and 26 per cent of global foreign direct investment flows.
Indian commerce minister Suresh Prabhu emphasised saying, “India is constructively engaged in RCEP negotiations and the country believes that ASEAN will remain central to the economic integration of the Indo-Pacific region through RCEP”.
The India-ASEAN expo attracted more than 200 exhibitors from India and the 10 ASEAN countries, including established companies, young entrepreneurs and startups as well as business associations and councils.
ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi supported the trilateral highway, which is under construction to connect India with Myanmar and Thailand by road, saying,” amid the current trade tensions and political instability the importance of free trade is immense, especially when ASEAN already ranks among the world’s top 10 investment destinations”.
“This will really deepen people-to-people and business-to-business connect, resulting in a win-win situation for businesses as well as travellers,” Lee Chuan Teck, second permanent secretary of Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry said supporting effort to boost transport infrastructure in the region.
For ASEAN representatives the next important meet is 7th RCEP Inter-Sessional Ministerial Meeting to be held on March 2-3.
India’s Junior Minister for Commerce Chhotu Ram Chaudhary said: “India was using the India-ASEAN Expo & Summit 2019 to invite the visiting ministers and business leaders to be part of the country’s growth narrative. Investments opportunities in areas such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, aviation, fisheries, infrastructure, food processing, and ship-building are enormous.”
Two-way trade volume between India and ASEAN climbed to $73.6 billion in 2017 and plans for growth by 2022 would more than double the amount as they are among the fastest growing economies of the world.
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