India and the ASEANA Growing Relationship
Vol 11 Issue 6 Jan - Feb 2018
A fact file on the ASEAN India connect and ASEAN China relations which makes an engaging comparative analysis
Saturday, January 27, 2018
Relations between India and the nations of South East Asia have been growing incrementally since the early 1990s when India initiated its ‘Look East’ Policy. It is however the announcement of ‘Act-East Policy’ at the 12th India ASEAN Summit held at Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar in November 2014 that marked a definitive shift of gears in the India-ASEAN Strategic Partnership.
Post the initiation of the Look East Policy, India first became a Sectoral Partner of ASEAN in 1992, a Dialogue Partner in 1996 and a Summit-level Partner in 2002. A major upgradation of the relationship came about with the India becoming a ‘Strategic Partner’ of the ASEAN in 2012, an announcement made during the celebration of 20th anniversary Commemorative Summit at New Delhi in 2012. This set the stage for the ‘Act East’ Policy, which emphasises on Connectivity, Commerce and Culture as the focus areas of action for a greater ASEAN-India integration and takes into account the defining pillars of ASEAN community building process - the ASEAN vision document ASEAN 2025-Forging Ahead Together, the ASEAN Master Plan for Connectivity 2025, the ASEAN ICT Master Plan 2020 and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration Work Plan III.
India and ASEAN decided to celebrate 25 years of their Dialogue Partnership, 15 years of Summit Level interaction and 5 years of Strategic Partnership in 2017 both in India and in ASEAN Member States. The celebrations involve conducting key activities in various sectors of our engagement to highlight the strengths of the relationship. These activities were planned to culminate in hosting a grand Commemorative Summit of ASEAN and Indian Heads of States/Governments on the theme “Shared Values, Common Destiny” in India.
Other activities that were planned and conducted were the ASEAN-India Ministerial/Business Meet in Telecom sector (held on the sidelines of Telecom Expo in February, 2017), the 6th Global Economic Summit with special session on Women Entrepreneurs in ASEAN, the Act East Dialogue, the Kolkata Dialogue, the North-East Business Summit with focus on Connectivity with ASEAN, the ASEAN-India Biztech Conference in Kuala Lumpur and the ASEAN-India Roundtable.
The 14th ASEAN-India Summit was held on 08 September, 2016 at Vientiane, Lao PDR which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during which several far reaching initiatives to take forward Indo-ASEAN cooperation had been announced. These included:
• Hosting the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in November, 2016 at New Delhi.
• Enhance cooperation in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Exercises, as well as in capacity building for disaster management personnel.
• Develop ASEAN-India network of Business Chambers to structure new commercial partnerships.
• Operationalize the Project Development Fund for CLMV countries.
• Establishment of a Joint Task Force on Connectivity to carry forward the exploratory work on the extension of India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
• Setting up of a regional high-capacity fibre-optic network, supplemented by a national rural broadband network and digital villages in remote areas.
• Operationalize Innovation Platform for utilization of the enhanced S&T Development Fund.
• Flagship ASEAN-India Programme for Combating Malaria.
• Enhance the ASEAN-India Fund with an additional grant of US$ 50 million.
• Hold India-ASEAN Youth Summit.
• Commission a project for mapping of Indian inscriptions along the Mekong river, as well as a project to capture the cultural symbols of our diversity. Create an online resource centre, accessible to all our citizens.
• Host ASEAN as our Guest of Honour for the International Buddhist Conclave in October 2016.
The annual ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers Meeting was held on 6th August, 2017 at Manila when the plan to host the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit on 25th January, 2018 and an invitation to all the ten ASEAN Heads of States/ Governments as Chief Guests for the Republic Day Parade on 26th January, 2018 were decided.
The various aspects of Indo-ASEAN cooperation and the developments regarding each are as outlined below:
Connectivity: Strengthening Connectivity, including land and sea connectivity, with ASEAN is one of the strategic objectives of India and ASEAN Member States. The plan of most vital significance under the ASEAN-India Connectivity is the initiative to lay the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway. An India-Myanmar Thailand Trilateral Task Force on Connectivity and Infrastructure has been set-up to undertake time bound work on completion of the Trilateral Highway and also undertake negotiations on the Motor Vehicles Agreement. India and ASEAN are holding consultations on extension of Trilateral Highway to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Both India and ASEAN are simultaneously also working to strengthen the Maritime Connectivity.
Trade & Economic Cooperation: The ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement was signed in 2009 and ones on ASEAN-India Trade-in-Services and Investments in 2015. Though trade between India and the ASEAN nations remained somewhat static during the period of the global slowdown, the year 2016-17 saw an impressive spurt in the trade reaching USD 70 billion. Alongside, the FDI inflows into India from ASEAN during the period April 2000 to December 2016 were US $ 54.97 billion, and represent almost 17% of the cumulative inflows received by India. There have simultaneously also been FDI outflows from India to ASEAN countries, which, for the period from April 2007 to March 2015, have been to the tune of US$ 38.67 billion.
An India-ASEAN Business Council (AIBC), consisting of several eminent Leaders of Business in ASEAN Member States and India has been constituted with a Secretariat at Malaysia that was established in 2015. The AIBC meets annually on the sidelines of ASEAN- India Economic Ministers’ Meeting.
Agriculture: Cooperation in the field of Agriculture has been a major dimension of the ASEAN-India cooperation and covers a diverse variety of sectors such as food security, exchange of information and technology, research and development projects, agriculture and forestry-related industries, and human resources development. A number of cooperative activities in Agriculture have been undertaken since 2011. An annual ASEAN-India Agriculture Ministers Meeting (AIMMAF) has been formalized which has met regularly since 2011.
Small and Medium Enterprises: A Joint Working Group has been set up by India for progressing cooperation with ASEAN nations in the SME Sector. India has created a Project Development Fund that is equivalent to approximately $ 75 million approx. towards the development of manufacturing hubs. A proposal to set up an ASEAN-India Innovation Platform through increasing the ASEAN India Science and Technology Development fund from US $ 1million to US $ 5 million has been accepted to facilitate commercialization of low cost technologies, technology transfer and collaborative R&D projects.
Space: Space Cooperation is a strategically important sector of the ASEAN-India cooperation with significant implications for the future with ISRO implementing a project proposal for the following:
• Establishment of Tracking and Data Reception Station and Data Processing Facility at Ho Chi Minh City;
• Up-gradation of Tracking Telemetry and Command (TTC) Centre at Biak, Indonesia; and
• Training of ASEAN Personnel in Space Science and Technology at the Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific (CSSTEAP).
New & Renewable Energy: The 1st ASEAN India Ministerial Meeting on New & Renewable Energy was held in New Delhi on November 7, 2012 which adopted ‘New Delhi Declaration on Cooperation in Renewable Energy’ which includes the following:
• Policy and regulatory framework across countries for facilitating, promoting and mainstreaming renewable energy;
• Facilitating finance for renewable energy applications; and
• Cooperation in research and development, technology transfer and resource assessment, including developing institutional linkages.
Environment and Forests: The 1st Meeting of the ASEAN-India Environment Ministers held on September 6-7, 2012 post which a resolution had been adopted the “New Delhi ASEAN India Ministerial Statement on Biodiversity”. An ASEAN-India Green Fund had been established in 2007 with US $ 5 million to fund pilot projects drawn up to promote adaptation and mitigation technologies in the field of climate change. ASEAN and India are also collaborating on several projects on Climate Change and bio-diversity through partnership with IISc, Bangalore.
Tourism: India-ASEAN cooperation in Tourism Sector is conducted through annual ASEAN India Tourism Ministers Meeting. The 3rd ATM + India meeting in 2012 signed a MoU on Strengthening Tourism Cooperation thereby making India the first Dialogue Partner to sign an MoU on Strengthening Tourism Cooperation with ASEAN. An ASEAN Promotional Chapter for Tourism (APCT) has been established in Mumbai in 2011.
A number of activities are conducted every year to promote mutual tourism.
People-to-people Connectivity: Several projects on people-to-people connectivity are held annually to increase interaction between India and ASEAN Community. Projects which have been carried out on this front are as follows:
• ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks
• Exchange of Parliamentarians
• ASEAN-India Media Exchange Programme
• Students Exchange Programme
• ASEAN-India Eminent Persons Lecture Series
• Special Course for ASEAN Diplomats
The ASEAN-INDIA Delhi Dialogue
The Delhi Dialogue is a premier annual event held since 2009 to discuss politico-security and economic issues between ASEAN and India. Nine editions of Delhi dialogue have been held so far at New Delhi and it has evolved to be a premier event for taking stock of global geo-political movements and their impact on ASEAN-India relations and making recommendations for future.
Facets of ASEAN-China Relations
The year 2016 marked the 25th Anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations. ASEAN Member States and China held a series of activities to commemorate this milestone. The celebrations culminated in a Commemorative Summit held back-to-back with the ASEAN Summit in September 2016 in Vientiane.
ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations commenced with the Chinese Foreign Minister participating in the 24th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July 1991. China was accorded full Dialogue Partner status in July 1996.
A Joint Declaration of the Heads of State/Government on Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity was made at the 7th ASEAN-China Summit in October 2003.
The first and second Plans of Action to implement the Joint Declaration (POA) were concluded in 2010 and 2015 respectively. The third POA with a time frame of 2016-2020 was adopted in November 2015.
China appointed its first resident Ambassador to ASEAN and established its Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta in September 2012.
ASEAN and China have been cooperating under the ASEAN Defence
Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) since it was established in 2010. An ASEAN China Defence Ministers’ Informal Meeting was held on 15-16 October 2015 in Beijing during which the Ministers explored avenues of practical cooperation and welcomed the forging of closer ties, to be carried out within the existing ADMM-Plus framework.
Some of the major areas of cooperation between ASEAN and China are:
Agriculture: ASEAN-China cooperation in agriculture focuses on enhancing cooperation in human resource development through a series of training courses on agricultural technologies to help train agricultural technicians and officials of ASEAN Member States. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the ASEAN Secretariat and the Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China on Agricultural Cooperation (2007-2011) was renewed on 27 September 2013 for a period of five years.
Information and Communication Technology: An MOU on cooperation in ICT was signed between ASEAN and China in November 2013 which covers the areas such as promoting industry, human resources and infrastructure development, as well as cooperation in new technologies and information exchange. The 11th TELMIN+China held in November 2016 endorsed the Action Plan for Deepening the China-ASEAN Partnership for Common Development in the ICT Field (2017-2021) to strengthen further China–ASEAN ICT cooperation towards promoting socio-economic development, particularly in the ever changing ICT environment.
Tourism: The year 2017 was designated as the ASEAN-China Year of Tourism Cooperation. China has become a major source of tourists for ASEAN. In 2016, the total number of tourist arrivals from China to ASEAN was 19.8 million, an increase of 6.4% compared to 2015, while the number of ASEAN tourists to China recorded 10.34 million, an increase of 57.8 %. As many as 37 cities in ASEAN have been connected with 52 cities in China through nearly 5,000 direct flights per week.
Science and Technology: The year 2012 was designated as the ASEAN-China Year of Cooperation in Science and Technology. A series of activities were implemented to mark the year, including among others the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation and launching of the ASEAN-China Science and Technology Partnership (STEP) Programme. Notable progress has been made in implementing STEP including building ASEAN-China joint laboratories, ASEAN China Remote Sensing Satelite Data Sharing and Service Platform, ASEAN-China technology Transfer Centre, and Talented Young Scientists Visiting China. The China-ASEAN Technology Transfer Center has contributed to facilitating information sharing, resource matchmaking and other related services to encourage collaboration between Chinese and ASEAN enterprises and science parks.
Connectivity: The 19th ASEAN-China Summit in September 2016 endorsed a commitment to continue to strengthen cooperation in the area of connectivity that will bring mutual benefits, including through capacity building and resource mobilisation for the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 (MPAC 2025), exploring ways to improve connectivity between both sides by synergising common priorities identified in the MPAC 2025 and China’s “Belt and Road” initiative, and encourage the active involvement of relevant multilateral financial institutions.
(The China-Indochina Corridor for International Economic Cooperation is one of the six major corridors to be constructed under the “Silk Road Economic Belt.”)
ASEAN-China cooperation on education: The year 2016 was designated as the ASEAN-China Year of Educational Exchange. The 9th China-ASEAN Education Cooperation Week (CAECW) which was held in Guiyang on 1-4 August 2016 which focused on three crosscutting themes, namely skills and talents cultivation of 21st Century; youth employment and enterprise education; and education reform and innovation. The 2nd China-ASEAN Education Ministers Round Table Conference on 3 August 2016 adopted a Joint Communiqué on the Development of ASEAN-China Education Cooperation in support of the ASEAN Work Plan on Education 2016-2020.
Cooperation in Culture: The year 2014 was designated as the ASEAN-China Cultural Exchange Year with various activities undertaken in ASEAN Member States and China. The 11th ASEAN-China Cultural Forum was held on 9-12 September 2016 in Nanning, China under the theme “Exchange and Sharing: Cooperation and Development of Cultural and Art Education of China and ASEAN”.
Environmental cooperation: The ASEAN-China Environmental Protection Cooperation Strategy 2009-2015 was adopted by the Environment Ministers of ASEAN Member States and China to serve as a guiding document for enhancing ASEAN-China cooperation in common priority areas of environmental protection up to 2015. Upon conclusion of the Cooperation Strategy, ASEAN Senior Officials on Environment (ASOEN) and China endorsed the ASEAN-China Strategy on Environmental Cooperation (2016-2020).
Disaster Management: An MOU between China and ASEAN on Disaster Management Cooperation was signed on 6 October 2014. With the total committed grant assistance of RMB 50 million, the MOU aims to support the implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) Work Programme, the operationalisation of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre), and the ASEAN Secretariat’s capacity building programmes on disaster management.