Further enhancing ASEAN – India strategic partnership

Wednesday, 2018-01-24 11:28:37
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PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his wife have arrived Palam airport, New Delhi. (Credit: VGP)
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NDO – Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, his spouse and a high-ranking delegation of Vietnam has left Hanoi for India in order to attend the ASEAN – India Commemorative Summit and the celebration of the 69th Republic Day of Indian, at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The PM’s visit aims to confirm Vietnam’s consistent policy of giving high priority to upholding the Vietnam – India comprehensive strategic partnership, as well as affirm Vietnam’s active role as a coordinating country for the ASEAN – India relationship.

During its history, ASEAN has developed respectable relations with India. The dialogue partnership between ASEAN and India was established in 1992 and was upgraded to a full dialogue relationship in December 1995. At the ASEAN – India Summit in the Indian capital of New Delhi in 2012, the two sides’ leaders decided to lift their ties to a strategic partnership.

2017 was a year that witnessed many milestones in the ASEAN – India relationship, with the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the dialogue partnership, the 15th anniversary of the summit partnership and five years of the strategic partnership.

Over the past year, ASEAN – India relations have been constantly strengthened in three pillars including politics-security, economy, and culture-society. In terms of politics-security, India reaffirmed that ASEAN is central to its ‘Act East Policy’ as well as sharing its views with ASEAN on building a regional structure based on open, comprehensive and balanced rules, while considering its comprehensive connectivity with ASEAN as a focus point.

Regarding economic cooperation, the two-way trade turnover between ASEAN and India reached nearly US$76 billion in 2017, increasing nearly 2.5 times over the past few years. ASEAN is India's fourth largest trading partner, while India is ASEAN's sixth largest trading partner. India is currently implementing a US$75 million Project Development Fund to support Indian enterprises investing in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. The ASEAN – India Summit on digital links was held in December 2017, highlighting the proposal of the Task Force on the interconnection to accelerate the India – Myanmar – Thailand Trilateral Highway which plans to be expanded into Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Culture-society is also an effective field of cooperation between ASEAN and India. Many cultural and people-to-people exchanges have been organised periodically by the two sides, such as ASEAN – India Student Exchange Programme, training courses for ASEAN diplomats, and an international seminar on civilisation connectivity between ASEAN and India. In 2016, India launched an India-ASEAN Goodwill Scholarship, aiming to promote the understanding of culture among the younger generations of both sides.

In the context of ASEAN – India relations witnessing noteworthy development, Vietnam, an active member of ASEAN, has commended its role as a coordinating country to strongly develop the ASEAN-India strategic partnership, focusing on areas of practical cooperation that are consistent with the priorities of ASEAN and Vietnam.

The upright long-term friendship between Vietnam and India has been nurtured by generations of leaders and people. Especially, the two sides upgraded their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership in September 2016, reflecting the deep, reliable and effective development of the two nations’ relations. The 2017 ASEAN – India Summit, themed ‘Shared Value – Common Destiny’, is a good opportunity for Vietnam to maintain the development of its relationship with India, as well as confirming its active role as a coordinator for ASEAN – India relations.

The attendance of PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his spouse at the ASEAN – India Summit and the celebration of 69th Republic Day of India will also contribute to tightening the solidarity among ASEAN and create a favourable environment for the sustainable development of the region, as well as improving the image of Vietnam which continues to proactively, actively and responsibly participate in regional cooperation and the future orientations for ASEAN – India relations.