On September 7, 2023, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the 20th ASEAN-India Summit and 18th East Asia Summit in Jakarta. This comes at a time when India has emerged as a leader in pitching rights for Global South and the emphasis of India’s Foreign Policy on regional blocs over other West-led alliances like Quad is more.
PM Modi received a ceremonial welcome at Jakarta International Airport. He was received by I. Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati, Minister for Women Empowerment and Child Protection.
During the summit, the Indian PM said, “This year's theme is ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth. ASEAN matters because here everyone's voice is heard; ASEAN is the epicentre of growth because ASEAN plays an important role in global growth.”
Prime Minister also presented a 12-point proposal for strengthening India – ASEAN cooperation. It ranged from issues like connectivity, digital transformation in terms of the Digital Public Infrastructure Stack, trade and economic engagement, people-to-people contacts, and deepening strategic cooperation to issues addressing contemporary challenges like climate change. He also mentioned the role of Mission LiFE in curbing lethal climate change.
ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) is a multilateral grouping of Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam with a shared aim of establishing strategic and economic ties.
Due to the ongoing geopolitical issues, it has also brought to the forefront an issue of supply-chain disruption which is highlighted in ASEAN Vision 2025. Supply chain resilience is a forefront demand by India, which India- ASEAN ties will further focus upon. On the economic front, India is keen to expedite the ASEAN- India FTA (Free Trade Agreement) review which will further expand trade.
Indo-Pacific holds a significant importance for the ASEAN states and India. This summit also indicated the safety and security of the region. Prime Minister highlighted the synergies between India's Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative (IPOI) and ASEAN’s Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).
India's relationship with ASEAN signifies the country's stand on the Act East Policy which forms the bedrock of India's Foreign Policy. And this summit is a significant improvement in the same as mentioned by Indian Prime Minister.
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