November 13, 2020: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on November 12 participated in the 17th ASEAN-India Summit conducted in a virtual format. The Prime Minister underscored the importance of greater physical and digital connectivity between ASEAN and India. He reiterated India’s offer of US$ 1 billion Line of Credit to support ASEAN connectivity. Mr Modi participated in the summit at the invitation of H.E. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Vietnam, the current Chair of ASEAN. The summit was conducted on the sidelines of the 37th annual ASEAN summit.
“Enhancing every type of connectivity between India and ASEAN – physical, economic, social, digital, financial, maritime – is a major priority for us. In the last few years, we have come close to all these areas,” he said.
Speaking at the summit in Hindi, the Prime Minister underlined the centrality of ASEAN in India’s Act East Policy. He underscored the importance of strengthening convergence between India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative and the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific, to ensure a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.
He said, “there is ample closeness between India’s “Indo Pacific Oceans Initiative” and ASEAN’s “Outlook on Indo Pacific”. We firmly believe that a “Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN” is essential for “Security and Growth for All in the Region.”
Mr Modi welcomed ASEAN’s initiatives to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and announced a contribution of US$ 1 million to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund.
The ASEAN countries welcomed adoption of the new ASEAN-India Plan of Action for 2021-2025. This Plan of Action (POA) is a guiding document for the implementation of the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership. It addresses a range of issues including cooperation on political, strategic, maritime, economic areas including health, counterterrorism, tourism, disaster management, environment etc.
However, India is still firm on not joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement. “As far as India is concerned, we did not join RCEP as it does not address the outstanding issues and concerns of India. However, we remain committed to deepening our trade relations with ASEAN,” said MEA Secretary (East) Riva Ganguly Das.
As per reports, the discussions also covered regional and international issues of common interest and concern, including South China Sea and terrorism. Both sides noted the importance of promoting a rules-based order in the region including through upholding adherence to international law, especially the UNCLOS. The leaders affirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, safety and security in the South China Sea,and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight.