For the first time, a full day has been dedicated to a business session at the 8th edition of the India-Asean ‘Delhi Dialogue’ — an annual Track 1.5 forum for discussing politico-security, economic and socio-cultural issues between the two sides.
Briefing media persons ahead of the two-day dialogue starting February 17, Anil Wadhwa, secretary (east) MEA, said, “Delhi Dialogue VIII is appropriately themed “Asean-India Relations: A New Paradigm”.
“Ongoing negotiations for regional trading agreements involving Asean member states including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to alter the regional trade architecture,” he added. The dialogue has been organised by the MEA and five industry chambers as well as think tanks from New Delhi, Singapore and Indonesia.
The combined GDP of almost 4.7 trillion that Asean and India bring together defines one of the most important economic spaces to impact the lives of nearly two billion people. With the coming into force of Asean Economic Community on 31st Dec 2015 and the expected conclusion of RCEP negotiations this year, the India Asean relationship is expected to receive a shot in the arm.
In a survey done by FICCI, it underlines industry’s optimism about the enabling environment created by the Government of India and the move towards consolidating the Asean region as an economic powerhouse of Asia through the formalization of Asean Economic Community (AEC) in December 2015 and expected conclusion of RCEP negotiations this year.
However, there is a room for creating greater awareness about the specific possibility of economic cooperation with the various Asean countries and addressing NTBs of doing business with each other. According to the survey findings, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore are the destinations in the Asean region which are currently the most important for India’s industry.
The survey has revealed that there is immense scope for systematically educating industry on the available incentives and possibility of leveraging inter-governmental economic agreements. Given the great cultural and historical affinity between India and Asean, strengthening the people to people connect has been a common response from industry, in line with the government’s emphasis on popular diplomacy with Asean.