India can do a lot more to deepen ties with ASEAN: Singapore Minister

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Published: August 29, 2019 8:46:45 AM

The Indian-origin Shanmugam said Asean consumers are highly price-conscious and one of the things that India does well is it produces products for this price conscious market.

Noting the substantial progress achieved on the trade front between India and Asean, the minister of home and law of the island city-state said there is tremendous goodwill towards India among the 10-nation bloc.

New Delhi can explore many opportunities with the Southeast Asian grouping Asean and deepen the trade engagements with the region further, Singaporean minister K Shanmugam said Wednesday. Noting the substantial progress achieved on the trade front between India and Asean, the minister of home and law of the island city-state said there is tremendous goodwill towards India among the 10-nation bloc.

“India’s interaction with the Asean has grown very substantially…I would say exponentially. But there is a gap between India’s current role in economic and strategic terms compared with that of a number East Asian countries. I see there is more opportunities that can be tapped into,” Shanmugam told a CII seminar on ‘India’s engagement with Asean’ here this evening.

The Indian-origin Shanmugam said Asean consumers are highly price-conscious and one of the things that India does well is it produces products for this price conscious market. “But there are a number of areas where India can do better, and, if that is done, then I can see that the interaction would be much more fruitful,” he said. India has become the sixth largest trading partner for the Asean as also the seventh largest source of foreign investment for the region. He said India can leverage its comparative advantages in the tech sector and embrace digital opportunities in the fintech space.

Shanmugam said Singapore and India have begun exploratory steps towards greater digital connectivity, with the formalization of the Fintech joint working group between the department of economic affairs of India, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the city-state’s central bank. “These efforts can be extended to the rest of the Asean as well,” he said. About the weaker air connectivity between Singapore and small Indian cities, Shanmugam said, “Singapore Airlines is very keen to fly to a number of cities where it makes commercial sense to fly. But Indian authorities sometimes doesn’t see it in the same light…and I think sometimes Air India also doesn’t see in the same light either.”

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