ASEAN and India on Saturday established the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership on the occasion of the 19th ASEAN-India Summit to commemorate three decades of dialogue relationship and reaffirmed the importance of maintaining ASEAN Centrality in the evolving regional architecture in the Indo-Pacific.
The joint statement on ASEAN-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership reaffirmed the importance of maintaining ASEAN Centrality in the evolving regional architecture in the Indo-Pacific and deepening dialogue and coordination through existing ASEAN-led mechanisms.
These mechanisms include the ASEAN – India Summit, the East Asia Summit (EAS), the Post Ministerial Conference with India (PMC+1), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF), and cooperate on initiatives to support and contribute to the ASEAN Integration and Community-building process; Noting that both the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) share relevant fundamental principles in promoting peace and cooperation, the joint statement reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, maritime safety and security, freedom of navigation and overflight in the region, and other lawful uses of the seas.
They also committed to advancing maritime cooperation, including in maritime security, countering piracy and armed robbery against ships, maritime safety, and search and rescue (SAR) operations humanitarian assistance, disaster management, and emergency response and relief.
The summit also agreed to enhance cooperation against terrorism and transnational crimes including international economic crimes and money laundering, cybercrime, drugs and human trafficking, and arms smuggling.
The Summit also agreed to strengthen cooperation on cybersecurity, such as through establishing new dialogue platforms between ASEAN and India and working closely with the ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence, and the ADMM Cybersecurity and Information Centre of Excellence.
Regarding trade, ASEAN and India agreed to expedite the review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) to make it more user-friendly, simple, and trade facilitative, and work together to forge resilient supply chains, explore cooperation on a Single Window platform to enhance trade facilitation and integration, and promote the development of MSMEs and start-ups, including through business-matching events with the facilitation by the ASEAN-India Business Council (AIBC).
The Summit also highlighted cooperation on the digital economy through a series of regional capacity-building activities in digital transformation, digital trade, digital skills and innovation, as well as Hackathons.
For e-commerce, the Summit decided to explore fintech cooperation including unified and interoperable digital financial systems between ASEAN and India, which would expand opportunities for businesses and e-commerce.
On the issue of connectivity, India and ASEAN enhanced cooperation in transport and connectivity in the land, air and maritime domains, including through the early completion and operationalisation of the India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Highway while looking forward to its eastward extension to Lao PDR, Cambodia and Viet Nam, and exploring synergies between the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025, and India’s connectivity initiatives under its Act East Policy in line with the “Connecting the Connectivities” approach, to strengthen regional connectivity; For climate change, the group decided to enhance cooperation in the field of environment, including biodiversity and climate change as well as explore cooperation in the field of energy security, including cooperation on clean, renewable, and low-carbon energy in line with the ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation 2021-2025 and India’s renewable energy priorities, as well as other national models and priorities such as bio-circular-green development.
The Summit also discussed Smart Cities and the joint declaration decided to explore cooperation such as city-to-city partnerships between the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) and Smart City Mission of India by fostering exchanges of best practices and capacity-building to help build cities that are resilient, innovative, well-connected, and technologically advanced.
It further enhanced ASEAN-India cooperation in the space sector including through the establishment of Tracking, Data Reception and Processing Stations in Viet Nam and Indonesia, and encourage cooperation between ASEAN and Indian space industry players, including in new areas of collaboration.
For tourism, the joint declaration added, “Promote the revival of tourism and related industries which have been severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, through effective implementation of the ASEAN-India Tourism Work Plans.”