India looking for early review of Trade in Goods Agreement with ASEAN

New Delhi, Aug 4 (Mayank Nigam) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday conveyed to the 10-member ASEAN bloc of nations that India looks forward to an early review of the Trade in Goods Agreement and to accelerate the connectivity projects. Attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers meet virtually, Jaishankar tweeted: “A substantive and fruitful ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers Meeting today.” “Much of India’s interests and relationships now lie to its East, a testimony of its ties with ASEAN. Looking forward to early review of our Trade in Goods Agreement. To accelerate our connectivity projects, especially Trilateral Highway and Kaladan project. “ ”Seeking convergence between the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) proposed by India. Support Initiative for ASEAN Integration through capacity building initiatives. “Contribute through Mekong-Ganga Cooperation and its Quick Impact Projects (QIPs).

Noted progress in Doctoral Fellowships and Hackathon. Strong partners in Covid response: medicines or oxygen, equipment or logistics. “Agree that 1982 UNCLOS sets out accepted legal framework for all maritime activities. Proposed 2022 as ASEAN-India friendship year for our 30th anniversary,” he tweeted. The proposed scope of the review of the Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and ASEAN could include issues like customs procedures, further liberalisation of trade in goods and exchange of data. The ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement was signed on August 13, 2009, and came into force on January 1, 2010. India is focusing on quickly completing the 1,360-km Trilateral Highway linking India’s Northeast to Myanmar and Thailand, and the Kaladan Multi-modal transport project, which is being built in Myanmar. The Kaladan project is a grant-in-aid project with a contribution of US$ 484 million from India.

It involves the building of an integrated port and inland water transport terminal in Sittwe, dredging and development of a navigation channel along the Kaladan river from the port of Sittwe until Paletwa (in Myanmar), and building a road from Paletwa to Zorinpuri, on the Mizoram border with Myanmar. Jaishankar also said India supports the ASEAN five-point consensus on Myanmar and welcomed the appointment of a Special Envoy on Myanmar. In his speech, Jaishankar noted how the ASEAN members have purposefully responded to the Covid crisis, individually and collectively. “These challenges have also brought ASEAN and India even closer, as we have extended practical support to each other during these times of stress.” He said that this year’s theme of ‘We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper’ under the chairmanship of Brunei captures the outlook of ASEAN. “I am confident that this theme applies equally to our partnership as well.” “It is also a testimony to the success of ASEAN that it is widely perceived as the foundation of the evolving strategic and economic architecture of the larger region,” he said, adding that the fact that ASEAN-led initiatives have established their salience across so many domains speaks for itself.

“India is committed to supporting a strong, unified and prosperous ASEAN, one whose centrality in the Indo-Pacific is fully appreciated. The strong convergence between the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and the Indo-Pacific Ocean’s Initiative (IPOI) proposed by India adds another dimension to our contemporary partnership,” he said. India’s ties with the ASEAN are, of course, rooted in history and strengthened by proximity. Together, these are factors that can help us achieve a vision of a more ‘connected’ India and ASEAN. This will naturally require the realization of a dedicated set of initiatives which, of course, constitute the core of our collaborative agenda,” He proposed that both sides should work together to make the 30th anniversary of the relations a grand success. The 10 ASEAN countries comprise Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.