In his opening remarks, Prime Minister expressed happiness in being part of the 16th India – ASEAN Summit held in Bangkok on November 03, 2019. He thanked Thailand for the warm hospitality and extended best wishes to Vietnam for taking over as Chairman of next year’s Summit.
Prime Minister said that India’s Act East Policy is a significant cornerstone of the Indo-Pacific strategy; adding that ASEAN is at the core of Act East Policy. A strong ASEAN will immensely benefit India. Prime Minister highlighted steps being taken to improve surface, maritime, air and digital connectivity. One billion dollar Indian line of credit will prove beneficial for improving physical and digital connectivity, he said. Prime Minister highlighted that last year’s Commemorative Summit and Singapore Informal Summit’s Decisions implementation has brought India and ASEAN closer.
India is willing to increase cooperation and partnership in areas mutually beneficial to India and ASEAN and expressed readiness to improve partnership and capacity building in the areas of agriculture, research, engineering, science and ICT. Prime Minister said that India wants to strengthen cooperation in the areas of maritime security and blue economy. He also welcomed the recent decision to review India ASEAN FTA saying it will improve economic partnership between the two countries.
EAST ASIA SUMMIT
He also participated in the 14th East Asia Summit as well as the third RCEP Summit. This is the sixth time that Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in the East Asia Summit. and at this summit the leaders reviewed the future direction of EAS and also exchanged views on regional and international issues such as Indo-Pacific, terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crimes. They also discussed South China Sea, the situation in the Korean Peninsula as well as in the Rakhine State in Myanmar.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi held bilateral meetings on the sideline of ASEAN summit. First he held bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan, in that the two leaders reviewed the progress on Mumbai Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project and welcome to the inaugural 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Dialogue which will focus on bilateral security and defense cooperation. The two leaders also agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation including in third countries for peace, progress and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region. Our prime minister looked forward to Prime Minister Abe’s visit to India for the India Japan Annual Summit in December 2019.
The second bilateral which Prime Minister had was with the prime minister of Vietnam who will now take over the chair of ASEAN and so he said that we would fully support Vietnam as it is the chair of ASEAN next year in its work.
The third bilateral Prime Minister had was the Prime Minister of Australia and they also reviewed the entire bilateral relationship. Prime Minister Scott Morrison accepted the invitation of Prime Minister to visit India and he would, during his visit, be the keynote speaker at the Raisina Dialogue in January 2020.
In National Interest India opts out of RCEP agreement
Prime Minister’s last engagement was his participation in the third RCEP Summit. India conveyed its decision at the summit not to join the RCEP agreement. This reflects both assessment of the current global situation as well as of the fairness and balance of the agreement. India had significant issues of core interest that remained unresolved. In his remarks on the subject Prime Minister highlighted that he was guided by the impact it would have on the lives and livelihoods of all Indians especially vulnerable sections of society. He spoke of Mahatma Gandhiji’s advice on recalling the face of the weakest and the poorest and then ask if the steps are of any use to them.