India - ASEAN trade in goods has grown to USD 80 billion in 2011-12 since 2007-08. This shows that the trade has doubled despite the bad shape of the global economic scenario.
Preneet Kaur, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India shared her views while highlighting the potential sectors that have shown this upsurge. “Infrastructure is a large area of cooperation in sectors such as railroads, ports, airports and roads. There is a strong demand and expertise availability at both sides. Areas like renewable energy, agriculture and IT are also considered as potential areas of cooperation between India and ASEAN countries. We are hopeful that in future this graph will continue to grow.”
Nguyen Thanh Tan, Ambassador, Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and Chair, ASEAN New Delhi Committee, congratulated CII for its engagement with the ASEAN region and for successfully organizing the India –ASEAN car rally last year. Thanh said that, connectivity plays a crucial role in promoting India ASEAN economic development, tourism and people-to-people links. He also said that to enhance trade, both sides should focus on renewable energy, telecom, pharmaceuticals, tourism, energy and transport and infrastructure.
However, on the contrary, senior industrialist from India, Sanjay Kirloskar, Chairman and MD of Kirloskar Brothers Ltd shared some of the concerns that Indian industries carry with regards to expand the trade between India and ASEAN countries. Kirloskar said, “In spite of enormous potential for business and trade, India is still not a very important trading partner of ASEAN. He said that both India and ASEAN need to exploit all the available business opportunities to enhance trade."
He also mentioned, “Recently launched negotiations on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement can further deepen India-ASEAN economic partnership.”
The RCEP aims to be the largest free-trade bloc in the world, comprising all 10 ASEAN nations and the 6 other countries with which the group has free-trade agreements (FTAs)—China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. The grouping, including more than 3 billion people, has a combined GDP of about USD 17 trillion and accounts for about 40 percent of world trade.
Indian industries representation has been actively present in the region almost at the time when Government of India launched its ‘look east’ policy. India and ASEAN entered into dialogue partnership, 20 years ago. Now it is the time to enhance this relationship. For doing so, it is important for policymakers to explore newer opportunities for business synergy and interact with the industry representatives of both sides in order to improvise the level of business between the two regions.