The year 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the ASEAN-India Dialogue Partnership. It was on January 28, 1992 at the Fourth ASEAN Summit in Singapore that a decision to establish a Sectoral Dialogue Partnership between ASEAN and India was made.
Since then, the relationship has progressed from strength to strength, with the two sides becoming full dialogue partners in 1996, Summit partners in 2002 and Strategic Partners in 2012.
To mark this historic occasion, congratulatory messages were exchanged today between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of the Philippines and ASEAN Chair for 2017. Congratulatory messages were also exchanged between Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs and Le Luong Minh, ASEAN Secretary-General.
In his message to President Duterte, the Prime Minister observed that the "Act East Policy" is a reflection of the importance we attach to our strategic partnership with ASEAN, of which we mark five years, alongside 15 years of our Summit-level partnership. He reaffirmed India's desire to deepen its engagement with ASEAN, "so that it may scale new heights and constitute a defining partnership of our times."
A series of events have been planned throughout the year to reflect the commemorative year's theme of "Shared Values, Common Destiny," which aptly reflects the close cultural and civilizational links that India and South East Asia have enjoyed over two millennia.
Elucidating the same, Swaraj in her message stated that the celebrations would span the political, economic, cultural and people-to-people domains and would include a special Commemorative Summit and a Commemorative Foreign Ministers' Meeting in India.
She also highlighted India's desire to continue to work closely with ASEAN in regional and international fora, especially as the 21st century economic and security architecture was taking shape in the Asia-Pacific.
In addition, a Youth Summit, a Business Summit, CEOs Forum, Regional Indian Diaspora Meet, car rally, sailing expedition, conferences, public competitions and cultural festivals are also planned in India as well as ASEAN countries.
It may be recalled that there are today 30 dialogue mechanisms between India and ASEAN, including a summit and seven ministerial meetings in a wide range of sectors such as Foreign Affairs, Commerce, Tourism, Agriculture, Environment, Renewable Energy and Telecommunications.
India and ASEAN share deep economic ties.
ASEAN is India's fourth largest trading partner, accounting for 10.2% of India's total trade. India is ASEAN's 7th largest trading partner. Investment flows are also robust both ways, with Singapore being the principal hub for both inward and outward investment.
Prime Minister Modi, in his message, urged ASEAN for its support for reaping the full benefits of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area in Goods, Services and Investment, which has been in place since July 2015.
President Duterte in his congratulatory message praised the ground- breaking initiatives taken by India across the political-security, economic and socio-cultural pillars of the ASEAN-India strategic partnership for mutual benefit.
He noted that ASEAN-India relations have contributed to the maintenance of peace, stability and prosperity in the region, and that ASEAN looked forward to further invigorating trade and investment relations with India.
President Duterte expressed special appreciation for India's commitment of a USD 1 billion line of credit for connectivity with ASEAN as well as for undertaking initiatives for narrowing the development gap within ASEAN.
ASEAN and India are both contributors to regional growth and stability.
The Prime Minister's message clearly articulated that India would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with ASEAN in the pursuit of a rules-based regional architecture which is open, inclusive, balanced and equitable.
This view of the future contours of the partnership was also echoed by the ASEAN Secretary General who in his message stated that ASEAN remained committed to working closely with India with a view to bringing the ASEAN- India Strategic Partnership to new heights.
He looked forward to India's continued support for ASEAN's Community building efforts, including the implementation of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)