ASEAN becomes even more important for India as economy grows: Vivian Balakrishnan

SINGAPORE: ASEAN will become even more important to India as India’s economy and its role in the Indo-Pacific region grows, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Thursday (June 16).

He was answering a question about how some believe the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is becoming less important to India as it takes a more active role in the region with the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

Speaking to journalists at a doorstop interview from New Delhi, Dr. Balakrishnan said he had “the opposite opinion”.

“As the Indian economy grows, its markets or its exports and even its needs for energy and other resources, India has strategic interests, not only in the Indian Ocean but also in the Asia-Pacific region,” he added.

“And because ASEAN is right in the middle, ASEAN is all the more important for India.”

dr Balakrishnan is in New Delhi to co-chair the Special Meeting of ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers with Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar and attend the Ministerial Meeting of the XII. Dialogs in Delhi to give a speech.

The meeting confirmed that ASEAN is even more important to India, said Dr. Balakrishnan.

“And indeed, we have so many opportunities to do more by integrating our economies. We have so many opportunities in digital, we have great opportunities in terms of green technology, sustainable development and carbon markets.

“I believe, and this is not just my view, it reflects the view of the Indian government, that ASEAN is even more important to India.”

For example, India is keen to build a highway that would connect the country to Myanmar, Thailand and on to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, which will accelerate and improve economic opportunities, said Dr. Balakrishnan.

At the meeting, Indian and ASEAN leaders also discussed cooperation on the frontlines of digital and sustainable technology, he added.

UKRAINE CRISIS

In view of the crisis in Ukraine and the resulting geopolitical tensions in the region, Dr. Balakrishnan also touched on how Singapore and the rest of ASEAN will work with India to address energy and food supply issues and tackle global logistics challenges.

As India is a major food exporter, this presents opportunities for the country, he said.

India is the world’s largest rice exporter, and its agricultural exports increased by almost 20 percent in 2021 compared to the previous year, said Dr. Balakrishnan.

“Obviously, they are also concerned about the domestic impact of rising food prices, so they are also taking some domestic measures,” he added.

“But the key point is this: assuming they get a good monsoon and the harvest is good, you can expect India to continue to be a food superpower and we certainly look forward to seeing them more.” Food can export to Southeast Asia and beyond.”

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