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Indian Mission to ASEAN
18th ASEAN-India Joint Cooperation Committee Meeting
The 18th ASEAN-India Joint Cooperation Committee Meeting (AIJCC) was held at the ASEAN Secretariat at Jakarta, Indonesia on 22nd June, 2018. AIJCC is the annual meeting conducted between ASEAN and India to take stock of all aspects of the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership, including various ongoing projects between two sides along the three pillars of ASEAN-India Relationship. The meeting was attended by the 10 Permanent Representatives of ASEAN and co-chaired by Ambassador of India to ASEAN H.E Suresh K.Reddy and Permanent Representatives of Vietnam to ASEAN H.E Nguyen Hoanh Nam. An Indian delegation from the capital comprising Mr. Anurag Bhushan, Joint Secretary (ASEAN-ML), Mr. Rudrendra Tandon, Ambassador-designate of India to ASEAN and Ms. Shashwati Arya, Under Secretary (ASEAN-ML) attended the Meeting.
The Meeting was important as it was the first AIJCC after holding the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in New Delhi on 25th January, 2018, which led to expansion of ASEAN-India relations into new spheres. The meeting took stock of the Delhi Declaration issued on the occasion of the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit.
The meeting took an overview of about 30 cross-sectoral developmental and security mechanisms between ASEAN and India, including in the field of Foreign Affairs, Connectivity, Maritime Domain, Agriculture, Energy, ICT, Tourism, Science and Technology including Space, Security including trans-national crimes, Human Resources Development, Culture, People-to-people contacts etc.
The meeting importantly discussed the new dimensions of the Indian policy relating to the Indo-pacific strategy as introduced at the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit and reiterated at Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in June, 2018, including the Indian policy of Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR). The meeting welcomed reiteration of ASEAN Centrality and ASEAN Unity in the Indo-pacific region. The meeting took note of the 3rd EAS Conference on Maritime Security and Cooperation held in India in June, 2018 and looked forward to holding the 2nd ASEAN-India Workshop in Blue Economy in July, 2018 at New Delhi.
The meeting focused on the growing menace of Terrorism and the counter-terrorism measures to be put into the region to tackle it mutually. In this connection, the meeting noted the directives given in Delhi Declaration.
As an important dimension of ASEAN-India Socio-Cultural Pillar, the meeting noted the Indian proposal to hold the 3rd ASEAN-India Cultural and Civilizational Links Conference in Siam Reap, Cambodia later this year. It noted the impetus given through formation of special engagements between the ASEAN-India Youth during the Commemorative Summit Activities in 2017-18. In this connection, it also noted the proposals to hold the 2nd ASEAN-India Youth Summit, 2nd ASEAN-India Music Festival and 2nd ASEAN-India Hackathon and Start-up Summit later this year to reap the demographic dividend between ASEAN and India.
Background to ASEAN-India Relationship
India’s relationship with ASEAN has emerged as a key cornerstone of India’s foreign policy. The relationship has evolved from the Look East Policy enunciated in early 1990s which led India to become a Sectoral Partner of ASEAN in 1992, a Dialogue Partner in 1996 and a Summit-level Partner in 2002. The India-ASEAN Strategic Partnership acquired a new momentum with the announcement of “Act-East Policy” in the 12th India-ASEAN Summit in 2014. It conveyed a clear intent on the part of India to infusing a new dynamism in its engagement with the ASEAN Member States. The ASEAN Member States welcomed the announcement of Act East Policy noting that it reflected the new dynamism and vigour in the partnership.
India and ASEAN have regular annual Summit of Leaders to infuse new spirit and take stock of the politico-security, economic and socio-cultural aspects of the relationship. These political level interactions are further strengthened through Ministerial meetings and supported through the Senior Officials’ Meetings, as also specialized Working Groups in the various sectors.
Shared historical ties, culture and knowledge have continued to underpin India’s sustained interactions with Southeast Asia. Cultural and intellectual exchanges and people-to-people contacts continue to be an important pillar of India-ASEAN relations.
Along the Socio-Cultural Pillar, a slew of people-to-people exchange programs have been the mainstay of functional cooperation between India and ASEAN. These include the Students Exchange Program, Media Exchange Program, Farmers Exchange Program, Delhi-Dialogue, Network of Think-tanks, Eminent Person Lecture Series and many others.
On the economic front, India and ASEAN signed a Free Trade Agreement in Goods 2009 and in Services and Investment in 2014, to establish a free trade area. Besides, India is also part of negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP), which includes ASEAN and its six FTA partners. Regional cooperation is the key to promoting economic stability, competitiveness, growth and integration in the region.
India supports ASEAN centrality in regional affairs for peace, progress and shared prosperity. India also supports and welcomes the formation of ASEAN Community in December 2015, which it considers a landmark event. It enables India and ASEAN to make significant strides along the three pillars of our regional engagement. It reinvigorated our historical connect while offering new opportunities for a closer ASEAN-India strategic partnership of peace, progress and shared prosperity. India is also considered a valuable partner in Narrowing the Development Gap within ASEAN by supporting the socio-economic growth of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
India and ASEAN have laid-out an ambitious Plan of Action for the years 2016-2020 under which they plan to expand and deepen the strategic partnership into new and crucial areas of cooperation for peace, progress and economic prosperity of the region. India’s expanding role in the region has been welcomed by all ASEAN countries.
The Meeting was preceded by the annual ASEAN-India Working Group Meeting (AIWG) on 21st June, 2018, which held in-depth discussion on various project proposals ongoing between India and ASEAN and submitted its recommendations to the AIJCC.