Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs, Dr Rajkumar Ranjan Singh,
H.E. Mr. Simon Wong, High Commissioner of Singapore in India
Dr C Raja Mohan, Senior Fellow, ASPI, New Delhi
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for joining us today and I warmly welcome you to the ICWA-AIC International Conference to commemorate 30 years of India-ASEAN Relations on the theme, “Geopolitical Shifts and Opportunities: New Horizons in India-Southeast Asia Relations.”
India and the countries in Southeast Asia are connected through shared history and ancient civilizational linkages. As independent nations, India and the Southeast Asian countries have developed wide-ranging ties and today India enjoys a unique relationship with each of the Southeast Asian nations. Co-operation ranges from preservation of heritage sites to working together in fintech and digital economies, collaborating in new and emerging technologies, holding joint military exercises, building capacities and promoting people to people connects.
The significant rise of Southeast Asia as an economic hub and the corresponding rise of India helped earlier shape India’s Look East Policy and later the Act East policy designed to strengthen engagement with the ASEAN nations bilaterally as well as collectively.
India’s journey with ASEAN which began in 1992 as a Sectoral Dialogue partner, has progressed to a Strategic Partnership. At the Special India- ASEAN Foreign Minister meeting held last month to commemorate 30 years of India - ASEAN partnership, it was agreed to work towards a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. India also continues to contribute to various ASEAN lead mechanisms like EAS, ADMM plus and ARF as well work with ASEAN countries through sub-regional mechanisms such as MGC, ACMECS, IMT-GT, BIMSTEC and IORA.
Even amidst challenges in geopolitical and geo-strategic landscape in the Indo-Pacific, India and ASEAN nations have articulated their convergence of interests. It is undeniable that the safety and security of the maritime domain and adherence to international law in the region’s Seas and Oceans is essential for the progress and prosperity of all countries in the Indo-Pacific region. India has emphasized the centrality of ASEAN in the region and looks forward to identifying commonalities between India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) and the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific.
Today, supply chain disruptions due to the Covid pandemic, and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict have sparked global food and energy security concerns. India and ASEAN countries are also facing its impact. The experience from the outbreak of the pandemic has propelled the need to establish flexible, reliable and adaptable supply chain. Even as, India and ASEAN countries pursue enhancing their manufacturing capabilities, they should continue to deepen their trade and economic ties. Also important is greater connectivity by land, sea or multimodal means for strengthening linkages and developing a sense of community and neighbourhood.
We look forward to the two-day deliberations on the various facets of India-Southeast Asia relations and the prospects of expanding the horizons of our co-operation.