New Delhi, 21 Nov. Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for hosting this Summit. I convey our deepest appreciation for the excellent arrangements and hospitality; and, for your leadership of ASEAN and East Asia Summit.
Rising from a double tragedy, Malaysia has demonstrated its resilience and resolve.
Kuala Lumpur is a symbol of Asian resurgence and of the region’s promising future.
Congratulations on a historic milestone – the birth of the ASEAN Community.
As always, ASEAN is providing both inspiration and leadership for regional cooperation and integration. And, from India’s perspective, ASEAN values and leadership will remain central to integration across Asia and Pacific.
Excellencies, I am delighted to return for my second ASEAN-India Summit. At the last Summit at Nay Pyi Taw, I saw the strength of our relationship and the potential of our partnership; and, even more important, the commitment and confidence that you showed for the India-ASEAN Strategic Partnership.
We meet at a time of multiple global challenges: economic uncertainties, political turmoil and security threats.
In this difficult moment, India and ASEAN are two bright spots of optimism.
India is today the fastest growing major economy in the world. The growth rate is touching 7.5 %, and is likely to go higher. Our inflation is down as also our fiscal and external deficits. And, business and international confidence has increased sharply.
The scale of transformation in India is vast; so, the size of economic opportunities in India are huge.
And, we now have environment that is open and welcoming. This is reflected in the sharp jump in India’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business. And, we will continue with our reforms with speed and boldness.
ASEAN’s economy continues to forge ahead with dynamism and energy.
I have no doubt that we will reinforce prosperity for our 1.9 billion people.
I am pleased that after a temporary decline, our trade increased to about 76.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2014-15; and, so has investment in both directions. ASEAN remains the largest investment partner – both for inward and outward flows.
Much of the potential for economic partnership remains untapped. I am confident that our trade and investment will expand, as our economies grow.
We can also draw confidence from the progress in our framework of cooperation. The entry into force of our Trade in Services and Investment Agreements in July 2015 is a major step forward.
We also look forward to progress in negotiations for a balanced and ambitious Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement that covers goods and services as well as investments.
Connectivity is the pathway to shared prosperity. The Trilateral Highway project is making good progress and should be completed by 2018.
We also propose to commit a Line of Credit of 1.0 billion U.S. dollars to promote projects that support physical and digital connectivity between India and ASEAN.
As in the past, we place special emphasis on our partnership with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Our partnership with them in capacity building projects will expand. In addition, we intend to create a Project Development Fund to develop manufacturing hubs in CLMV countries.
Excellencies, science, technology and innovation constitute a vital pillar of our cooperation and support our economic partnership. We will enlarge the ASEAN-India Science and Technology Development Fund from the current one million U.S. dollars to 5 million U.S. dollars.
We also intend to set up an ASEAN-India Innovation Platform to facilitate commercialization of low cost technologies, technology transfer and collaborative R&D projects.
Our cooperative project in Space, to be located in Vietnam, is now making concrete progress. I assure you of its early completion.
India also offers ASEAN our indigenously developed GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation or GAGAN services, which provides advanced navigation and location assistance and information facilities.
I also propose that we cooperate in sustainable development of Ocean or Blue Economy. This will be an increasingly important driver of our future economy, and a source of food security, medicines and clean energy. India has entered into collaboration with a number of ocean states.
Excellencies, our research and innovation efforts must cover a range of common challenges – massive urbanization and mega cities; skills for the future; food security; water; and, affordable healthcare.
An issue of global concern is climate change. India has ambitious clean energy plans: 175 GW of additional capacity of renewable energy by 2022; and, 40% of energy through non-fossil fuel by 2030.
Excellencies, we would also be happy to offer over 100 training slots in renewable energy in our institutions.
I have also proposed an international solar alliance of 122 solar-rich countries, which French President Hollande and I will launch in Paris on November 30. We look forward to your participation in the launch and the alliance.
I deeply value our collective efforts to revive the cultural pillar of our relations. An international conference on ASEAN-India Cultural Links was held in New Delhi in July. We are proposing to open an ASEAN Studies Centre in our North-Eastern Hill University in Shillong, which is our Gateway to the East.
I am delighted that the first recipient of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations Distinguished Alumni Award instituted this year is H.E. Le Luong Minh, Secretary General of ASEAN.
India will soon extend electronic-visa facility to all 10 ASEAN countries.
Our future prosperity rests on the foundation of security and stability in our region and the oceans, outer space and cyber world.
The first ASEAN-India Cyber Security Conference we hosted in January 2015 should be the springboard for greater cooperation in this area.
India shares with ASEAN a commitment to freedom of navigation, over flight and unimpeded commerce, in accordance with accepted principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Territorial disputes must be settled through peaceful means.
India hopes that all parties to the disputes in the South China Sea will abide by the guidelines on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and redouble efforts for early adoption of a Code of Conduct on the basis of consensus.
We should evolve specific plans of cooperation in maritime security, counter-piracy and humanitarian and disaster relief.
Terrorism has emerged as a major global challenge that affects us all here. We have excellent bilateral cooperation with ASEAN members. And, we should see how we can enhance our cooperation at the regional and international level, including through support for adoption of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
Excellencies, as our rapidly transforming region navigates its way through uncertain times to a peaceful and prosperous future, we look forward to ASEAN leading the way in defining the regional architecture.
Let me conclude by thanking Your Excellencies for your presence and by reaffirming that India attaches the highest priority to this partnership. In recognition of that, we have opened a permanent mission to ASEAN in Jakarta.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on how we can further develop our collaborative agenda.