Modi says Asean countries can be great partners

Building ties: Prime minister invites 10-nation bloc to be part of India's economic journey

Modi says Asean countries can be great partners

Asserting that India and Asean have “no irritants” in their ties and can be “great” partners, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said there will be “major improvement” in India’s trade policy and environment and proposed a special facility for speedy implementation of connectivity projects with the 10-nation bloc.

Inviting the 10 southeast Asian nations to be part of his country’s “new” economic journey, Modi laid out his vision at the Asean-India summit here explaining how India will be open for business without any hurdles and how it was willing to go beyond what has been done so far in creating a stable current business environment.

The prime minister’s strong “Make in India” pitch also had its echo at the deliberations and got the support of the Asean grouping.

The prime minister in his interaction in Hindi at the round table said that a “new era” of economic development, industrialisation and trade has begun in India and that the rapidly developing country and Asean can be “great partners” to each other. Noting that India’s ‘Look East’ policy has become ‘Act East’ policy, Modi assured the Asean leaders that he will give his “sustained personal” attention to India’s relations with the regional bloc.

“We have embarked on a new economic journey in India, we invite you to this new environment in India,” the prime minister said. Asean plans to become one economic community by the end of next year. Modi’s comments came at a time when India seeks to deepen its engagement with the bloc of 10 small and medium economies. “We have no irritants in our relationship. We see encouraging opportunities and challenges in the world in similar ways,” he said.

At the same time, Modi said the potential for India-Asean ties is much higher. “To deepen our connectivity, I am considering establishing with your cooperation, a special facility or special purpose vehicle to facilitate project financing and quick implementation,” he said.
Presently, India-Asean trade is around $76 billion which is just three per cent of total Asean trade.

They have set a target of $100 billion for bilateral trade by 2015. Modi noted that both India and Asean are keen to enhance their cooperation in advancing balance, peace and stability in the region.

“My government has been in office for six months and the intensity and momentum with which we have enhanced our engagement in the East, is a reflection of the priority that we give to this region,” the prime minister said at the summit held at the sprawling Myanmar International Convention Centre, on the second day of his 10-day three-nation tour of Myanmar, Australia and Fiji.

Modi also suggested that India and Asean conduct a review of free trade agreements to improve it further and make it beneficial to all.Asean comprises 10 countries — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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