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Ministry of External Affairs
(ASEAN Multilateral Division)
Brief on ASEAN-India relations

1. India's Look East Policy was initiated in 1991 and since then, India's relationship with ASEAN remains one of the cornerstones of our foreign policy and the very foundation of our Look East Policy. India became a sectoral dialogue partner of ASEAN in 1992, which was upgraded to full dialogue partnership in 1996. Since 2002, we have had annual Summits with ASEAN. ASEAN and India commemorated the 20th anniversary of dialogue-level partnership and the 10th anniversary of Summit-level partnership with a Commemorative Summit in New Delhi under the theme 'ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace and Shared Prosperity' on December 20-21, 2012. The Commemorative Summit attended by the Leaders from all the 10 ASEAN countries endorsed elevating our partnership to a 'Strategic Partnership'. The Leaders also adopted the 'ASEAN-India Vision Statement', which charts the future of ASEAN-India cooperation.

2. At the 7th ASEAN-India Summit in 2009, India announced a contribution of USD 50 million to ASEAN-India Cooperation Fund to support implementation of the ASEAN-India Plan of Action 2010-15, which envisages cooperation in a range of sectors in the political, economic and socio-cultural spheres for deepening and intensifying ASEAN-India cooperation. This was in addition to the ASEAN-India Science & Technology Fund set up in 2007 with an initial corpus of US$ 1 million and the ASEAN-India Green Fund also established in 2007 with US$ 5 million for funding pilot projects to promote adaptation and mitigation technologies in the field of climate change. As on date, over US$ 70 million worth of projects have been shared with ASEAN Secretariat for their views and concurrence in the last one year across different sectors with the objective of capacity building and enhancing cooperation and integration between ASEAN and India. Significant projects include the setting-up of the ASEAN-India Science & Technology Digital Library, the ASEAN-India Virtual Institute for Intellectual Property, the ASEAN- India Technology Information and Commercialization Portal and the creation of a Sustainable IT Infrastructure for Advanced IT Training Using Conventional, Virtual Classroom and e-Learning Technologies.

3. An ASEAN-India Eminent Persons Group (AIEPG) was established, as per the Plan of Action 2010-15, to “chart a vision statement towards the long-term strategic partnership between ASEAN and India in addressing regional and global issues”. With Eminent Persons representing all the 10 ASEAN countries, ASEAN Secretariat and Eminent Persons from India, AIEPG held four meetings: Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2-3 August 2011; New Delhi, India 20-21 October 2011; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 9-10 March 2012 and Kochi, India, 16-17 September 2012 and finalized their Report to the Leaders. The 10th ASEAN-India Summit in Phnom Penh took note of the 'Report to the Leaders' of the AIEPG and commended the AIEPG for their excellent work in producing a good and concise Report, which contains many practical recommendations for further advancing ASEAN-India partnership to the next important level and tasked respective ministers to consider it thoroughly and to implement the key recommendations.

4. The process of intensification of ASEAN-India cooperation continues with several events and meetings organized in 2012, the commemorative year and several events planned across various sectors in 2013. Delhi Dialogue V under the theme 'ASEAN-India: vision for Partnership and Prosperity' was held in New Delhi on February 19-20, 2013. An MoU on Strengthening Tourism Cooperation was signed in January 2012 thereby making India the first Dialogue Partner to sign an MoU on Strengthening Tourism Cooperation with ASEAN. Visa on arrival facility now stands extended to 7 ASEAN countries (Lao, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines). The 4th ASEAN-India Tourism Ministers Meeting was held in Vientiane on January 21, 2013, where a Protocol to amend the MoU was signed by the Ministers and an ASEAN-India Tourism Website was launched.

5. The Ministry of Environment and Forest convened the 1st Meeting of the ASEAN-India Environment Ministers on September 6-7, 2012. It was preceded by a workshop on 'Capacity Building on the Nagoya Protocol and Access and Benefit Sharing and Traditional Knowledge and Digital Library for ASEAN, East Asian and South Asian countries' from 4-5 September, 2012. The Ministers adopted the New Delhi ASEAN India Ministerial Statement on Biodiversity.

6. The Ministry of Agriculture convened the 2nd ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry in New Delhi on October 17, 2012 along with an Agri Expo that was held back-to-back with this meeting from October 17-19, 2012. The meeting endorsed the 'Report and Recommendations of the Co-Chairmen of ASEAN-India Working Group on Agriculture and Forestry on the Progress of ASEAN-India Cooperation Activities on Agriculture and Forestry to the 2nd ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting of Agriculture and Forestry' and released a Joint Press Statement.

7. The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy convened the 1st ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting on New & Renewable Energy in New Delhi on November 7, 2012. preceded by a Workshop on New and Renewable Energy on November 5-6, 2012.

8. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India organized the 2nd ASEAN-India Business Fair from December 18-20, 2012. Meetings of the ASEAN-India Business Conclave and the ASEAN-India Business Council were also held on December 19, 2012. ASEAN-India Ministers of Trade met on the sidelines on December 19, 2012.

9. The ASEAN-India Trade-in-Goods Agreement signed in August 2009 became fully operational from August 2011 when the process of ratification by all the ASEAN countries was completed. Buoyed by this, total trade between India and ASEAN increased by 37% in 2011-12, reaching US$ 79.3 billion, thereby surpassing the trade target of USD 70 billion by 2012. As per the provisional trade data for 2012-13, ASEAN-India trade for the year was USD 76.4 billion.

10. Negotiations on the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement in Services and Investment concluded in December and the Leaders, at the Commemorative Summit welcomed the conclusion of the negotiations. Consultations between the Trade and Commerce Ministers of ASEAN and India continued with CITM attending the 10th ASEAN Economic Ministers' +India Consultations in Seam Reap on August 31, 2012 where the Ministers discussed ways to further enhance commercial cooperation between ASEAN and India including the ASEAN-India Trade in Services and Investment Agreement.

11. In fulfillment of the announcement made by the Prime Minister of India at the 9th ASEAN-India Summit, the Department of Space of the Government of India convened a meeting of the Heads of Space Agencies of India and ASEAN Member States in Bangalore on June 19-20, 2012. The ASEAN-India Artists Camp was held in Darjeeling, India, from June 11-17, 2012 and the ASEAN-India Civilizational Dialogue in Patna on July 20, 2012.

12. Connectivity with ASEAN remains one of our priorities and at the 10th ASEAN-India Summit in Phnom Penh, the Leaders reiterated India and ASEAN’s strategic objective in greater physical connectivity, including land and sea connectivity. At the Summit, PM reiterated that connectivity with ASEAN continues to be a strategic priority for India. India has set up an Inter-Ministerial Group on ASEAN Transport Connectivity to study the various connectivity proposals which include the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and its extension to Cambodia and Lao PDR and also a new highway linking Vietnam. To expedite the Trilateral Highway, the Joint Task Force on the Trilateral Highway between India-Myanmar –Thailand has been revived and the meeting of the Task Force was held in New Delhi on 10-11 September, 2012 and discussed modalities for establishing a seamless trilateral connectivity by 2016. An Indian delegation also attended the 21st ASEAN Land Transport Working Group Meeting in Lao PDR from July 3-5, 2012 ; the 24th ASEAN Maritime Working Group Meeting in Yangon from October 17-19, 2012; and the 25th ASEAN Maritime Working Group Meeting in Mandalay from March 12-14, 2013. India will be participating in the first meeting between the ASEAN Connectivity Coordination Committee and India on June 10, 2013 in Balikpapan, Indonesia.

13. The interface between Parliamentarians has also been strengthened through participation at the 31st, 32nd and 33rd General Assemblies of ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) in 2010, 2011 and 2012 as Observer. An AIPA delegation, led by its President and Speaker of the House of Representatives of Indonesia, Mr.Marzuki Alie visited India from July 28-August 2, at the invitation of the Speaker, Lok Sabha.

14. Two major events that were organized in 2012 in the run-up to the Commemorative Summit include the 2nd ASEAN-India Car Rally and Shipping Expedition of INS Sudarshini to ASEAN countries. The expedition of INS Sudarshini from 15 September 2012 to 25 March 2013, traced the ancient trade route along the monsoon wind, highlighting India's maritime linkages with South East Asia and also connectivity and networking between people of the region. INS Sudarshini was flagged-off from Kochi on September 15 and was given a Naval send-off at Chennai on September 29, 2012. INS Sudarshini called on Padang, Bali, Manado, Brunei, Cebu, Manila, Da Nang, Sihanoukville, Bangkok, Singapore, Klang , Phuket and Sittwe in ASEAN member states, apart from Chennai and Port Blair. The expedition was flagged down in Kochi on March 25, 2013 by Raksha Mantitri. Various “Marker” events – B2B by FICCI and ICC Kolkatta and cultural by ICCR, were organized at these ports of call, which brought out the strength and potential of ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership.

15. The 2nd edition of the ASEAN-India Car Rally 2012 was flagged off from Yogjakarta, Indonesia on November 26, 2012.. The rally covered around 8000 kms over 22 days, passing through eight ASEAN countries ( Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar) and was flagged down in Guwahati on December 17, 2012 by the Chief Minister of Assam. Prime Minister of India and the Leaders of ASEAN countries ceremonially flagged down the ASEAN-India Car Rally in New Delhi on December 21, 2012. “Marker” events, including business seminars, tourism road-shows, cultural performances, etc. were organized along the route of the Car Rally by Indian Missions, CII, Ministry of Tourism and ICCR.

16. Cultural troupes from all ASEAN countries performed in various cities in India including Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram on December 13/14, 2012 and finally participated at a fusion cultural performance on the evening of December 20, 2012, choreographed by Mr.Sanjoy Roy of 'Teamwork' to mark the ASEAN-India Special Commemorative Summit.

17. The 1st meeting of the ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks (AINTT) was organized by Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) on August 7-8, 2012. External Affairs Minister inaugurated the event. Experts from the Think-Tanks in each of the ten ASEAN countries, Deputy Secretary General ASEAN and experts from Indian Think-Tanks participated in the event.

18. Another significant event include the ASEAN-India Media Exchange Programme, under which a group of 20 ASEAN journalists visited India in February 2012, at the time of Delhi-Dialogue IV. The second batch consisting of senior editors from ASEAN visited India from 16-22 December during the Commemorative Summit. The first batch of 8 Indian journalists visited Cambodia and Vietnam in early July 2012, coinciding with the ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting and the launch of the Logo for the Commemorative Summit and related activities in Phnom Penh. The Exchange Programme continues in 2013 with the third group of ASEAN journalists visiting India from 17-23 February 2013 during DD-V. Indian journalists would be visiting Malaysia and Brunei in June/July 2013 to coincide with the 11th ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Brunei.

19. India hosted 220 students from ASEAN countries in four batches from 11-21 December 2012. The students visited the four regions of India in four batches and converged in New Delhi and they also participated in the ceremonial flag-down of the ASEAN-India Car Rally on December 21, 2012 by the Prime Minister and ASEAN leaders.

20. The ASEAN-India Eminent Persons Lecture Series organized by RIS will continue and a number of eminent persons would travel between India and ASEAN in both directions to deliver lectures on various topics of interest over the course of this year. This year, under the programme, Prof Deepak Nayyar and Prof. Romila Thapar delivered lectures in Ho Chi Minh city in February 2013.

21. Foreign Service Institute (FSI) conducted its annual special training course for 30 ASEAN Diplomats including 3 Officials from the ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC) from November 21- December 20, 2012.