Prime Minister Narendra Modi will embark on a two-day visit to Jakarta, Indonesia, to attend the 20th ASEAN-India Summit and the 18th East Asia Summit. The Prime Minister will depart Delhi on the night of September 6 and return late in the evening on September 7.
Describing the ASEAN-India Summit as ‘special’, Saurabh Kumar, Secretary (East) MEA, informed that the summit will be the first one after the elevation of the India-ASEAN relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which happened last year. Further, the Ministry of External Affairs also said that PM Modi will review the progress in ASEAN-India relations and provide them with further direction.
This year, the chair of ASEAN is Indonesia, and the theme of the chairship is ‘ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth’. It is pertinent to note that last year, India and ASEAN celebrated the 30th anniversary of their partnership, and a number of events and activities were organized.
The East Asia Summit, of which India is a founding member, is the foremost of the ASEAN-centered mechanisms in the Indo-Pacific. It has played an instrumental role in providing a platform for dialogue and discussion on matters of strategic importance to the region. The East Asia summit brings together, at the leadership level, ASEAN members and eight dialogue partners, which are Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States.
“At the forthcoming East Asia Summit, PM Modi and other leaders will discuss ways to further strengthen the EAS mechanism as well as exchange views on matters of regional and international interest,” informed Saurabh Kumar, Secretary (East) MEA.
The Indian ambassador to ASEAN, Jayant Khobragade, highlighted that the visit shows how India gives importance to this region and to ASEAN’s centrality. “PM of India is coming to Indonesia despite the G20 Summit being held right after a day. This shows the kind of importance that India gives to this region,” said Ambassador Khobragade. Further, he added that India has always given importance to ASEAN centrality, which is a complex of several things – connectivity, trade, investment, and people-to-people contact, among others.
India’s relations with ASEAN – A central pillar of its Act East policy
While giving details about the growing ASEAN-India relations, Saurabh Kumar, Secretary (East) MEA, said that India’s focus has been on enhancing comprehensive connectivity with ASEAN in all aspects, including physical, digital, economic, and people-to-people. Notably, earlier this year, PM Modi, along with his Singapore counterpart, launched the real-time cross-border payment link between UPI and Singapore’s Pay Now.
In May of this year, India and ASEAN organised their first maritime exercise. The first ASEAN-India Defence Ministers’ meeting was held in November last year. In 2022–23, India and ASEAN registered a bilateral trade of US $131.5 billion. It accounted for over 11% of India’s trade for the year and was the second highest after India-EU trade.