Home Interviews Interview with H.E. Usana Berananda Director General,Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand

Interview with H.E. Usana Berananda Director General,Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand

Q. ASEAN and India are celebrating their 30th Anniversary of dialogue this year. How has this relationship strengthened with time and what are the future objectives to uphold this relation?

Ans- The ASEAN-India relations were established as a sectoral dialogue partnership in 1992, and grew into a full dialogue partnership in 1995. It elevated recently to a comprehensive strategic partnership in November, 2022, which reflects close cooperation as well as represents the unique status and strategic importance of India in this region. 

In terms of political and security cooperation, India was among the first Dialogue Partners that acceded to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) while also actively participating in the ASEAN-led mechanisms, including the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Several conferences and workshops have been jointly hosted with a particular focus on maritime cooperation.

On the economic front, there is the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area (AIFTA), which includes FTAs in goods, services, and investments. We have witnessed upward trends in two-way trade as well as increasing FDI. Both sides also agree to review the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) to make it more user-friendly, simple, and trade facilitative.

In the case of socio-cultural cooperation, both ASEAN and India have worked together to enhance people-to-people contact and academic exchanges through various programmes such as the 1,000 doctoral fellowships for ASEAN students. Close cooperation on traditional medicine and R&D in vaccines and medicine will also be important and served as a strong basis for our future cooperation. 

I believe that the Special ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, together with the annual ASEAN-India Senior Officials’ Meeting and the Delhi Dialogue, convened in New Delhi is a natural opportunity for us to not only take stock and reflect on our past but to lay a solid groundwork for our future cooperation and mutual benefits.

Q  India hosted the Special ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in June. Would you like to share the details of this visit.?

Ans- The Special ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held from 15-17 June 2022, along with the 24th ASEAN-India Senior Officials’ Meeting and the 12th Delhi Dialogue. The main objective was to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-India relations and celebrate the ASEAN-India Friendship Year. It was an opportunity to review the implementation of the ASEAN-India Plan of Action, as well as prepare for the upcoming ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting and Summit. 

I think the key message that ASEAN sent during the meetings is that we wish to see India’s constructive engagement that contributes to peace, prosperity, and stability in the region. Taking into account the current geo-political uncertainties and a lot of flashpoints in various parts of the world, ASEAN wants to enhance cooperation with India based on the core principle of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), which is very much in line with India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI). 

And I am of the view that synergy of cooperation between the AOIP and IPOI will serve as the basis for our future growth, particularly in the areas that would help unlock the full economic potentials such as trade and investment, digitalisation, regional connectivity, STI, and tourism, as well as sustainable development and climate action through cooperation in clean energy and health security.

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