- Gateway House - https://www.gatewayhouse.in -

Presentation at India-ASEAN Partnership@25

Key points in the presentation give by Ambassador Rajiv Bhatia, Distinguished Fellow, Gateway House, Mumbai at the Conference on India-ASEAN Partnership@25, New Delhi for the third session on ‘Regional and Bilateral Co-operation’. Read more about the event here.

Intensify cooperation with ASEAN through both the regional track and the bilateral track:

  1. On the regional track, consider afresh the obstacles that hamper trade and investment expansion; accelerate RCEP negotiations; make the utilisation of three Funds more effective and better known; and produce results from the two initiatives announced by the Modi government – $1 billion for digital connectivity with ASEAN countries and $75 million for new projects in the CMLV region. While doing all this, let us accord a high priority to the development needs of our Northeast.
  2. On the bilateral track, focus on deepening ties with select countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar.

Plan a step-by-step rejuvenation and expansion of BIMSTEC:

  1. Shortlist a few priority areas for cooperation
  2. Initiate institutional reforms
  3. Set up a BIMSTEC Development Fund
  4. Invite Vietnam, Cambodia and Lao PDR into the grouping. When the BIMSTEC membership goes up from 7 to 10, it will reflect a better balance between South Asia and Southeast Asia.
  5. Within the expanded BIMSTEC, keep strengthening BBIN as the core, and leverage its progressive integration to drive BIMSTEC forward.

Address the changing power dynamics in East Asia through the strategy of vigilance and resilience:

  1. We all want a stable secure and prosperous East Asia, but not all of us – ‘the China-wary nations’ – would accept a Sino-centric Asia. Regional unity should be built around multi-polarity and smart balance. This alone will be the bulwark for regional stability.
  2. While avoiding the perils of military confrontation and Cold War-type containment, India should be pro-active in the further development of and harmonization within the Quadrilateral Grouping or Quad of US, Japan, Australia and India. But this will not be enough.
  3. Developing the Quad’s strategic communication and links with other nations – Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Myanmar and South Korea – should be an immediate goal, and
  4. India’s Act East Policy should operate within the larger Indo-Pacific framework.

Rajiv Bhatia is Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, Gateway House

You can read exclusive content from Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations, here.

For interview requests with the author, or for permission to republish, please contact outreach@gatewayhouse.in.

© Copyright 2017 Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations. All rights reserved. Any unauthorized copying or reproduction is strictly prohibited