Asean-India Commemorative Summit-2018 : Important Topics for UPSC Exams

Asean-India Commemorative Summit-2018 : Important Topics for UPSC Exams

ASEAN- INDIA commemorative summit took place to celebrate 25th anniversary of establishment of  dialogue partnership. The theme of the summit was “Shared Values, Common Destiny”.

The summit was followed by an unprecedented attendance of  10 ASEAN HEADS as the Chief Guests for the celebration of India’s 69th Annual Republic Day. This is for the first time that India has not 1 but 10 world leaders as Chief Guests for the Republic Day.


The most significant outcome of the summit was the “Delhi Declaration’’,  which talks about various issues like maritime cooperation, stability, economic ties, joint fight against terror etc.

The summit comes in the background of the expansionist tactics followed  by China in the South China Sea and also marking a major shift from India’s earlier “LOOK EAST” POLICY to the enhanced “ACT EAST” POLICY,  which signifies India’s increased commitment to ASEAN members.

ASEAN accepted India as a sectoral partner in 1992 and full time dialogue partner in 1996. ASEAN has thus helped India expand in Asia ,post LPG reforms and motivating to formulate its “Look East” policy, which India has enhanced to as “Act East” policy to strengthen relations with the eastern neighbor countries.

India and ASEAN signed a Free Trade Agreement in 2009 which came into effect in 2010. The FTA  has strengthened the economic ties between both the sides. The trade between the two stood around $ 70Bn for 2016-2017.

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Focus areas

Major Takeaways-

  • Greater cooperation in Maritime domain.

  • Anti terror  commitment.

  • Commitment to intensify efforts  in 2018 toward the swift conclusion of RCEP.

  • Commitment to enhance  connectivity .

  • India’s commitment to develop and enhance its “ACT EAST” policy.


  • A major discussion  took place on issues of Maritime cooperation and security-  where PM Modi reiterated the primacy of UNCLOS of 1982 and spoke in support of Rule of Law in the region  of South China Sea. This comes in background of the assertive behavior manifested by China in that region.  India already conducts maritime exercises and patrols with the members of ASEAN. Need of Code of Conduct over South China Sea was also expressed.

  • For the first time both the parties mentioned “ cross border movement of terrorists” and made a commitment to counter and combat them through “close cooperation”.

  • Both  side agreed  “to intensify efforts  in 2018 toward the swift conclusion of RCEP”. Singapore PM LEE HSIEN LOONG expressed his willingness and hoped that a conclusion could be reached by this year. RCEP(REGIONAL  COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP) once established would be the biggest FREE TRADE BLOCK in the world covering almost 30% of world GDP.

  • The two sides reiterated the need to enhance connectivity , not just physical but digital and other forms as well. Singapore  PM (who is current CHAIR OF ASEAN ) expressed his willingness in developing connectivity through ASEAN –INDIA Air TRANSPORT AGREEMENT along with connectivity in an E-payment system.

[note:-An India-Myanmar-Thailand highway from Moreh in Northeastern India to Mae Sot(Thailand) is already under construction. The project could further be extended to Cambodia ,Laos or Vietnam.]

Way forward-

Development of India-ASEAN ties cannot be seen in isolation of international developments and though both the sides have expressed greater engagement  in past two decades and have come a long way since then , there are challenges that need to be overcome -

-The constant assertive behavior of China in strategic areas that needs to be dealt with. India has shown its support to ASEAN. INDIA needs more formal channels to put a check to its tactics. Role of QUAD involving India, Japan, Australia,US could act as a check to China and also provide maritime security in INDO-PACIFIC regions.

- Despite the FTA between ASEAN-INDIA trade in goods was restricted to US $ 58.6 Bn in 2016, which is only 2.6% of  ASEAN’s external trade(2016). In contrast its trade with CHINA stood to US $ 368 Bn.

-Many of the connectivity projects such as KALADAN, INDIA-MYANMAR-THILAND trilateral highway  have been constantly delayed for various reasons some of which remain outside of India’s jurisdiction. Expeditious improvement in these projects is required.

There is a great and substantial potential particularly in the fields of economic , cultural ,religious spheres where both the sides have familiarity and solidarity and hence should mobilize diplomatic and soft skill factors to enhance cooperation in these fields .



1)The Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project -

a) connects INDIA to CHINA.

b) aims to integrate North East State Highways to Myanmar.

c) both a and b.

d) none

2) Which of the above are correct?

a) RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between 10 members states of ASEAN and 6 states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements.

b) RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2015 at the ASEAN Summit in Bali, Indonesia.

1) A only

2) B only

3) Both

4) None 

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