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Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today that his visit to the Philippines from tomorrow to attend the India-ASEAN Summit symbolises the country's commitment to deepening ties with the ASEAN member states and the Indo-Pacific region as part of the 'act east policy'. The prime minister also asserted that he was confident that his visit to Manila will give a new boost to India's bilateral relations with the Philippines, and also further strengthen the politico-security, economic and socio-cultural pillars of India's engagement with ASEAN. In his departure statement ahead of the three-day trip, Modi also gave a broad outline of the events he will attend during his first bilateral visit to the Philippines. Apart from participating in the ASEAN-India and East Asia Summits, Modi would also take part in Special Celebrations of the 50th anniversary of ASEAN, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Leaders' Meeting and ASEAN Business and Investment Summit. "My participation in them symbolises India's commitment to continue deepening relationship with ASEAN Member States, in particular, and with the Indo-Pacific region, in general, within the framework of my Government's Act East Policy," the prime minister said. The ASEAN Business and Investment Summit will boost the close cooperation to enhance trade ties with ASEAN member- states, which constitutes a significant 10.85 per cent of our overall trade, he said. Modi said he looks forward to having a bilateral meeting with Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte and will also have interactions with other ASEAN and East Asia Summit Leaders. He said he was also looking towards connecting with the Indian community in the Philippines. Modi, in a Facebook post said, he will also visit the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Mahavir Philippines Foundation Inc. (MPFI). IRRI, through scientific research and development, has developed better quality of rice seed and helped the global community in addressing food scarcity issues, the prime minister said. "A large number of Indian scientists are working in IRRI and contributing to R&D in this field. My cabinet approved on July 12, 2017, a proposal for IRRI to set up its South Asia Regional Centre at Varanasi.
This will be the first Research Centre by IRRI outside its headquarters in the Philippines," Modi said. The Varanasi Centre would help increase farmers' income by enhancing and supporting rice productivity, reducing cost of production, value addition, diversification and enhancement of farmers' skills, he added. Modi said his visit to MPFI will demonstrate India's support for its activities in distributing free prosthesis 'Jaipur Foot' among the needy amputees. Since its establishment in 1989, MPFI has fitted nearly 15,000 amputees in the Philippines with 'Jaipur Foot', making them capable of living a new life, he said, adding that India is making a modest contribution to the foundation to support its noble humanitarian activities. The 10-member grouping ASEAN and India comprise a total population of 1.85 billion people which is one-fourth of the global population. The combined GDP has been estimated at over 3.8 trillion dollars. Trade between India and ASEAN stood at USD 65.04 billion in 2015-16 and comprises 10.12 per cent of India's total trade with the world. The ASEAN grouping comprises Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Apart from the 10 ASEAN Member states, East Asia Summit includes India, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Russia.
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