ASEAN working on RCEP agreement: Ravi Shankar Prasad

Bessie Dean
January 23, 2018

He said that India stood as an exception in a world where most countries had started to increasingly look inwards.

"At the politico-security level, we have been working with each other to bring an open, transparent, inclusive and evolutionary regional security architecture which would meet both traditional and non-traditional security challenges", he said in his address at the inaugural plenary of the Association of Southeast Nations (Asean)-India Business and Investment Meet and Expo here. "Our economic growth and development was somewhat a latter prospect", he said.

"Therefore, India and the ASEAN represents the aspirational world", Mr. Jaitley said. "And the prospect of this region growing over the next two to two-and-a-half decades is extremely significant".

New Delhi is ready to give higher tariff concession to 10 South-East Asian nations as it already has free trade agreements in both goods and services with the ASEAN.

Jaitley said the Indian story was also somewhat similar as from a "very modest" growth rate in the last 25 years, the country had picked up and had now reached a point where it had become one of the fastest growing economies.

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While Asean is India's fourth largest trading partner, India is Asean's seventh largest, he said. Unquestionably, (in) the period of 25 years, India would perhaps be one of the largest three economies in the world.

Talking about trade relation between India and the ASEAN nations, Jaitley said the consolidation of their relationship is necessary to take giant steps for the future of the region.

He stressed that India is looking forward to further deepening our engagement with ASEAN, with all the special commemorative events lined up for the next few days, celebrating our Shared Values and Common Destiny.

The Ministers from ASEAN countries included H.E. Lim Jock Seng, Minister at the Prime Minister's office and Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Brunei, H.E. Enggartiasto Lukita, Minister of Trade, Indonesia, H.E.

New Delhi, however, remained non-committal with Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu saying that India would continue to seek a balanced outcome of the negotiation on the RCEP, covering not only goods, but also services and investment. "The confidence of the new India is that it is getting more globally integrated and this opening out in terms of trade and investment has certainly brought not only additional resources but significantly improved upon India's competitive strengths".

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