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By Vanitha Govindan
KUALA LUMPUR, June 24 (Bernama) -- The recently concluded Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and India’s 30th anniversary of dialogue relations will further strengthen ties between both sides with discussions very much focused on tapping trade and investment advantages post COVID-19 pandemic.
Among others, there were persistent calls to review the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement (AIFTA).
The decade old trade deal needs to be restructured and aligned to the current needs and demands, especially when countries globally are focusing on post-pandemic recovery and opportunities, ASEAN India Business Council Co-Chairman, Datuk Ramesh Kodammal said.
Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah who participated in the Special ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers' Meeting (SAIFMM), which marks the 30th anniversary of dialogue relations between the two sides also said that both sides were working to strengthen this relationship by improving trade processes, he said.
Saifuddin was referring to the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA), which was signed in August 2009 and came into force in January 2010 but the two sides are discussing a review to make the pact more facilitative and relevant to the current global trading practices.
The Malaysian minister admired India's success in the digital economy, especially its ability to foster entrepreneurship through Silicon Valley-style angel investors and venture capitalists.
"That is one model that we may emulate in the ASEAN region and Malaysia," he said.
In the perspective, Malaysian media who were part of the 19 media personnel from 10 Asean countries were given the opportunity to have a glimpse of what India has to offer in the area.
Among others, the media visited Hyderabad, the capital and largest city in the Indian state of Telangana, which is among the global centres of Information Technology (IT) in the world with the evolution of IT Hub commonly called Cyberabad.
Besides a showcase of Tata Consultancy Services, a global leader in IT services, consulting, business solutions with a large network of innovation and delivery centres, the media also visited the Genome Valley.
It is India's first state-of-the-art biotech hub that provides research, training, collaboration and manufacturing activities for biotech companies. Among others, Bharat Biotech, a multinational biotechnology company that developed India's first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine - COVAXIN.
And, also T-Hub, a public-private-partnership innovation intermediary and business incubator.
They had an interaction with these companies and learned about the latest developments, existing cooperation and opportunities extended by the above companies to the ASEAN countries.
The visit was part of the media exchange programme between ASEAN and India organised by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India under the ASEAN-India Fund.
Besides ASEAN and India related topics, India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar stressed that India and ASEAN can also contribute to the ongoing rebalancing of the global order.
"We are driven by the rising consumer class, a strong start-up ecosystem, a growing internet economy, and robust demographic dividend," he said, adding that, "From the Indian perspective, ASEAN lies at the centre of the Indo-Pacific, geographically, culturally, and strategically."
He further stated that ASEAN Centrality is self-evident especially as its architecture has such wide coverage.
The foreign ministers of India and the ASEAN nations also agreed to work towards a "meaningful and substantive" comprehensive strategic partnership even as the two sides explored ways to navigate the implications of the developments in Ukraine on trade and regional security.
Commodity trade between India and ASEAN region has reached US$98.39 billion in the period April 2021- February 2022.
India’s main trading ties are with Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.
Between 2000-2021 cumulative Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) from ASEAN to India was US$117.88 billion.
These were mainly accounted for by Singaporean investments in India (US$115 billion).
Indian investment into ASEAN since April 2019 till March 2022 is US$55.5 billion out of which US$51.5 billion investment is in Singapore.
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