Marking The 30th Anniversary Of ASEAN-India Relation
The two-day conclave to mark the 30th anniversary of India’s relations with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the 10th anniversary of Strategic Partnership with ASEAN was hosted by India. The year 2022 has been designated as ASEAN-India Friendship year & the meeting in New Delhi was attended by all Foreign Ministers of other ASEAN Member States and ASEAN Secretary General Dato Lim Jock Hoi. The Senior Officials meeting of the 24th ASEAN-India meeting too held. A premier Track 1.5 Dialogue – the 12th edition of Delhi Dialogue (DD) was following the SAIFMM. ‘’Building Bridges in the Indo-Pacific’’ is the theme of this year of DD-XII.
The ASEAN is a group of 10 countries namely Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, & Myanmar. The ASEAN is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region, & India and several other countries including the US, China, Japan and Australia are its dialogue partners. The Background of ASEAN-India dialogue started in 1992 when sectoral partnership was established & this later, in December 1995 graduated to full dialogue partnership. The Summit Level Partnership was reached in 2002 & in 2012, The ties were elevated to a Strategic partnership. Central to India’s Act east Policy & its vision for a wider Indo-Pacific, the ongoing India-ASEAN collaboration is guided by the Plan of Action 2021-2025 which was adopted in 2020.
The two sides exchanged views on regional & international issues of mutual interest, including the Covid-19 crisis & post-pandemic recovery. Jaishankar Prasad, the Foreign Minister, said that ‘geopolitical headwinds’ have changed the scenario of the world which had knock-on effects on food & energy security, as well as fertiliser & commodities prices, & logistics & supply chain disruptions. The two sides agreed to uphold multilateralism in jointly responding to the regional and global challenges. Working towards upgrading the existing India-ASEAN strategic partnership to a comprehensive strategic partnership was also agreed, & to begin an early review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) to make the pact more user-friendly & simple. Exploring synergies between the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025 & India’s connectivity initiatives under its “Act East” policy was agreed too. The need to speedily complete & operationalise the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway, & to expand it eastwards to Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam, as well as the need for more robust air & maritime connectivity were emphasized.
The cooperation between the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) & India’s Indo-Pacific Ocean’s Initiative (IPOI) was also agreed to be explored, especially in maritime security & connectivity, disaster risk management, search & rescue operations, & environmental protection. The “commitment to multilateralism founded on the principles of the international law, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) & other relevant UN treaties & conventions, maintain an open & inclusive regional cooperation framework, support ASEAN Centrality in the evolving rules-based regional architecture, uphold multilateralism in jointly answering to regional & global challenges”, added by Jaishankar.
Today, the role of ASEAN has become more pertinent than ever before, given the geopolitical challenges & uncertainties that the world faces. India fully supports a strong, unified and prosperous ASEAN, one whose centrality in Indo-Pacific is fully recognized, is the need of the time. The strong convergence of the AOIP & the IPOI is the testimony to shared vision for the region. A better-connected India & ASEAN would be well-positioned to promote decentralized globalisation & resilient and reliable supply chains that are needed by the international community. It's important to identify a new set of priorities while ensuring the early realisation of the ongoing initiatives.