As part of India’s Look-East Policy and its economic integration with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the government is promoting India-Mekong economic cooperation. Both sides are also planning a Mekong-India economic corridor, which will form an integral part of India-Asean connectivity.
For long, India has been promoting the Mekong-Ganga cooperation initiative, which includes India, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Initially, this was part of the Bay of Bengal initiative for multisectoral, technical and economic cooperation.
India is preparing to sign the much-awaited free trade agreement on services and investment with Asean in December. This would pave the way to an India-Asean comprehensive economic partnership agreement.
The Mekong-India economic corridor will be a network of land and sea infrastructure. Currently, the proposal is being studied by the Ministry of External Affairs. The corridor envisages the linking of vibrant emerging economies in the Asean region with India.
On November 19, Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid will address a seminar on the proposal. The seminar, to be organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Asian Development Bank, will also be addressed by Department of Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram, Vietnamese trade minister Nguyen Cam Tu, Pan Sorasak, secretary of state, commerce ministry of Cambodia, and Yoshiro Kosaka, head World Customs Organisation (Asia-Pacific), among others.
In November 2012, it was agreed discussions on a regional comprehensive economic partnership would be initiated to enable further liberalisation between Asean nations and major regional economies, including India. The recent political reform process in Myanmar, a key bridge between the regions, now makes land connectivity between South and Southeast Asia possible, unlike the case a few years earlier, according to a study by CII.
In the last 11 years, trade between India and Asean nations has risen about 10 times to $76 billion in 2012-13, exceeding the target of $70 billion. It is expected trade would stand at $100 billion by 2015, following the implementation of the India-Asean comprehensive economic partnership agreement in July 2015.
Mekong-India connectivity is currently being addressed as part of the Asian Highway Network and Trans-Asian Railways being promoted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
- The Mekong-Ganga cooperation initiative includes India, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam
- The Mekong-India economic corridor will be a network of land and sea infrastructure
- Recent political reforms in Myanmar have enabled land connectivity between South and Southeast Asia
- India plans to sign a free trade agreement on services and investment with Asean in December
- It is expected trade between India and Asean nations would stand at $100 billion by 2015