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India, Asean to speed up work on free trade agreement, highway to Thailand

India and Asean countries will also continue to collaborate in peaceful exploitation of outer space through the implementation of the Asean-India Space Cooperation Programme

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a retreat meeting with the Asean Heads of State/Governments at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

With an aim to further trade ties, India and Asean on Thursday agreed for swift conclusion of the comprehensive and mutually beneficial (RCEP) in 2018.

Both sides also reaffirmed their commitment to enhance physical and digital connectivity in line with the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity 2025 and the Asean ICT Masterplan (AIM) 2020 by availing the $ 1-billion line of credit announced by India.

India and Asean will also work towards encouraging early completion of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Project and extend this to Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam, according to the Delhi Declaration of the Asean-India Commemorative Summit.

The summit was held here to mark the 25th anniversary of (Asean)-India Dialogue Relations.

It also emphasised the need to deepen cooperation in the area of aviation under the Asean-India Aviation Cooperation Framework adopted at the 14th Asean Transport Ministers Meeting in Manila, on November 6, 2008, including through the convening of air services consultations by the on Regional Air Services Arrangements and the establishment of air transport cooperation on technical, economic, and regulatory matters between Asean and India.

It was agreed to establish closer Asean-India air links to promote tourism, trade, and enhance greater connectivity between 10-nation grouping Asean and India.

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Both sides will work to "further strengthen Asean-India economic relations, including through the full utilisation and effective implementation of the Area, and intensify efforts in 2018 toward the swift conclusion of a modern, comprehensive, high quality, and mutually beneficial (RCEP)," it said.

There were also agreements on cooperation for conservation and sustainable use of marine resources in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and address threats to these resources including illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, loss of coastal ecosystems and the adverse impacts of pollution, ocean acidification, marine debris.

It also emphasised the need to promote maritime transport cooperation between Asean and India, and encourage potential private sector participation in the development of seaports, maritime logistics network and in order to create greater efficient linkages and encourage Asean and India to continue discussions on these priority areas.

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According to the declaration, promotion of stable and sustainable growth for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), including through technology transfer, as well as enhancing capacity building, technical assistance, access to innovation, and opportunities to integrate into the global and regional value chains were agreed upon.

India and Asean countries will continue to collaborate in peaceful exploitation of outer space, through the implementation of the Asean-India Space Cooperation Programme, including launching of satellites, for sustainable exploitation of ground, sea, atmospheric and digital resources for equitable development of the region, it said.

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It further said there is a need to promote private sector engagement and strengthen business-to-business relations, including through the Asean-India Business Council, and encourage trade events to promote brand awareness of Asean and India products and services to further broaden and deepen economic linkages.

"We also look forward to the establishment of the and Investment Centre," it said.

First Published: Fri, January 26 2018. 09:53 IST