The BIMSTEC charter has laid the foundations for a prosperous, peaceful, and sustainable Bay of Bengal region, a goal that can be achieved by greater integration and deeper collaboration. While ensuring continuity with past efforts and strengthening economic cooperation is necessary, it must also realise its potential in newer areas such as the blue economy, which has three interlinked pillars— connectivity, prosperity, and regional stability.
The seven decade-reign of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, who passed away last month, was rich with event. There were coups, but economic development too, with the skilful leader managing to hold the nation together
Vice President Ansari’s recent visits to Brunei and Thailand provided further clarity to the Act East Policy while advancing its implementation. He effectively showcased that the rationale for a strong India-ASEAN strategic partnership is sharper than before.
Recently signed sub-regional agreements will help India's 'Act East' by furthering trade and connectivity linkages as well as build strategic relations with important powers in Asia. China's regional integration growth in the past decade should be the benchmark for India.
New Delhi has actively worked with Beijing to address its massive bilateral trade deficit. However, it has another option. India can seek greater economic integration with ASEAN and substitute its imports from China with that of ASEAN. The India-ASEAN Summit on December 20 would be a good place to start.