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East Asia Summit : Towards action-oriented regime

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map_usa.jpgThe East Asia summit (EAS) is a major forum for leaders in the region and it currently has 18 members. Besides the 10 countries in the ASEAN region and India, the other EAS members are Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the US and Russia. The EAS bloc represents 55 per cent of the world’s population and accounts for around 56 per cent of global GDP. The ASEAN Leaders welcomed the “Act East” emphasis in India’s “Look East Policy” and expressed their fervent belief that this would contribute to the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership, particularly in support of the ASEAN Community building process and ASEAN Centrality. The ASEAN Leaders encouraged India’s continued support for the implementation of the Roadmap for ASEAN Community (2009-2015), the Bali declaration on ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations (Bali Concord III) and developing the ASEAN Community Post-2015 Vision. The leaders of the 18 East Asian Nations made an unprecedented commitment to eliminate malaria across the region by 2030. The 10th East Asia Summit would take place at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2015.

Outcomes of 12th ASEAN-India Summit:

  1. The summit appreciated India’s unwavering support in ASEAN-led mechanisms like the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), East Asia Summit (EAS) and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus) in order to tackle regional and international issues faced by the region.
  2. Reiterated commitment to strengthen cooperation in implementing the ASEAN-India 2003 Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism. In view of the urgency to combat drug trafficking, we agreed to raise awareness of the dangers and threats posed by drug consumption and abuse, particularly among the youths in ASEAN and India.
  3. To further enhance the close cooperation between ASEAN and India on maritime issues, with a particular focus on maritime security and addressing the emerging challenges at sea.
  4. ASEAN Leaders also encouraged India to continue its support to enhance the IT skills of the workforce in ASEAN by providing scholarships, joint training programmes and courses, e-learning, seminars, workshops for public and private personnel and students of CLMV countries and the exchange of IT experts.
  5. The total trade between ASEAN and India reached US$ 67.9 billion in 2013 and renewed commitment to reach the target of US$ 100 billion by 2015.
  6. The ASEAN Leaders underscored the importance of India’s cooperation in implementing the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) and the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre).

India’s act east policy

India's enhanced engagement with the ASEAN is at the heart of its 'Look East' Policy. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the25th ASEAN summit in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw to unveil India’s new “Act East Policy,” and convince his Southeast Asian counterparts that his government is serious about boosting ties with the region. “A new era of economic development, industrialization and trade has begun in India. Externally, India’s ‘Look East Policy’ has become ‘Act East Policy,’” Modi explained at the summit. One can say at this juncture that Modi has clearly thought to send straightforward signals to a more action-oriented policy towards ASEAN specifically and East Asia more generally, in contrast to India’s original Look East Policy first formulated under Prime Minister Narasimha Rao in the 1990s and it was endorsed by former Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. As India seeks to deepen its engagement with the 10-nation bloc of small and medium economies, Modi said both India and the ASEAN are keen to enhance their cooperation in advancing balance, peace and stability in the region. The Act East policy is India’s effort aimed at bolstering extensive strategic and economic ties with Southeast Asian countries that would possibly act a counterweight to the influence of China in the region. Regarding the policy, India is keen on expediting the economic agenda with Southeast Asian countries tapping them for greater investment — especially in the infrastructure sector — also driven by connecting trade points in the region. India’s business with ASEAN countries is only 30 per cent of total ASEAN trade, and government is keen on increasing it. India stated that ASEAN “needs to play a greater role in the international arena by taking a more united stand in addressing issues of common concern and interest.”

25th ASEAN: The 25th ASEAN summit concluded at Naypyidaw in Myanmar. China has pledged to assistance worth $480 million, or 3 billion yuan, to ASEAN nations next year and help the regional bloc reduce poverty. The integration is 80 percent finished, but ASEAN must still work on key issues including laws protecting intellectual properties, reducing trade barriers, and strengthening integration of the financial markets.