East Asian nations will tomorrow launch negotiations for the ambitious Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a mega trade agreement comprising 16 countries of the region, including India.
India will be associated with the major economic bloc with an aim to boost its engagement with the countries of the region. "Tomorrow, we will participate in the seventh East Asia Summit and launch the RCEP negotiations," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here today while addressing the India-ASEAN Summit. He stated this as he invited greater investments from the South and East Asian nations, emphasising that enhanced cooperation will be crucial for stability and prosperity of the region. Sanjay Singh, Secretary (East) in External Affairs Ministry, later said India will be involved in the RCEP, an initiative of ASEAN and its six dialogue partners.
The initiative involving the 10 ASEAN members and its partners that includes Australia, China, Japan, South Korea New Zealand and India proposes an economic partnership which will form the world's largest economic bloc. The trade ministers of EAS countries will be meeting shortly to take the initiative forward. Singapore was quick to welcome India's participation in RCEP.
At the ASEAN Summit, Singh said India attaches the "highest priority" to ASEAN integration and believes in ASEAN's centrality. The ASEAN leaders said India and members of the 10-nation grouping should share and build progress, utilising their strengths. Meanwhile, Singh held a bilateral meeting with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra during which the two leaders expressed interest in early conclusion of bilateral Free Trade Agreement. They also discussed cooperation in the fields of terrorism, disaster management and anti-piracy. They also reviewed progress on trilateral highway being built between Thailand, Myanmar and India, which is targeted to be completed by 2016.