ASEAN and India Pledge Closer Trade and Economic Cooperation

The ASEAN member states and India pledged on 15 June to increase trade and economic cooperation, including through new trade in goods agreements.  

Senior officials from ASEAN and India met in New Delhi this week to discuss ways to further strengthen the ASEAN-India strategic partnership in areas of mutual interest, the Southeast Asian bloc said in a statement.

The parties discussed possibilities to further deepen cooperation in tourism, blue economy, biodiversity conservation, smart agriculture, digitalisation, sustainable development, humanitarian assistance, public health, traditional medicines, climate change, science, and technology, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), research and development, people-to-people linkages, and narrowing development gaps.

The meeting also agreed to “achieve the full potential of ASEAN-India trade and economic partnership including through enhanced utilization and effective implementation of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area (AIFTA) by the early commencement of the review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) to ensure that it is more user friendly, simple and trade facilitative for businesses, by accelerating the process of endorsement of the Scoping paper of the review of AITIGA so that the AIFTA Joint Committee can be activated to oversee the implementation of the AITIGA Review.”

India and ASEAN pledged to work to strengthen regional connectivity, including both physical and digital connectivity. The parties also agreed to develop an open, secure, interoperable, and user-empowering digital connectivity ecosystem, in view of the importance of digital platforms for improved access in areas such as healthcare, education, and finance.

The ASEAN bloc and India will also look to continue promoting MSMEs development and preparing those enterprises for digital transformation, including through enhancing capacity building particularly in the utilisation of digital economy, technical cooperation mechanisms and business matching activities, since MSMEs are the backbone of the economies of ASEAN and India.