Highlighting the milestone of 30th anniversary of India-ASEAN Partnership, the leaders announced the Year 2022 as India-ASEAN Friendship Year. Prime Minister underlined the centrality of ASEAN in India’s Act East Policy and in India’s Vision for the wider Indo-Pacific Vision. Building upon the synergies between the ASEAN Outlook for the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI), PM and ASEAN leaders welcomed the adoption of the India-ASEAN Joint Statement on cooperation for peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
On COVID-19, the Prime Minister highlighted India’s efforts in the fight against the pandemic in the region and also reiterated support for ASEAN’s initiatives in this regard. India has contributed medical supplies worth USD 200,000 to ASEAN’s humanitarian initiative for Myanmar and USD 1 million for ASEAN’s Covid-19 Response Fund.
The leaders exchanged views on enhancing India-ASEAN connectivity in broadest terms including physical, digital and people to people. To further strengthen India-ASEAN cultural connectivity, Prime Minister announced India’s support for establishing the ASEAN Cultural Heritage List. On trade and investment, he underlined the importance of diversification and resilience of supply chains for post-COVID economic recovery and in this regard, the need to revamp the India-ASEAN FTA.
The ASEAN leaders appreciated India’s role as a trusted partner in the region especially during the current Covid-19 Pandemic with its supply of vaccine. They also welcomed India’s support to ASEAN centrality in the Indo-Pacific and looked forward to greater India-ASEAN cooperation in the region through the Joint Statement.
The discussions also covered regional and international issues of common interest and concern, including South China Sea and terrorism. Both sides noted the importance of promoting a rules-based order in the region including through upholding adherence to international law, especially the UNCLOS. The leaders affirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, safety and security in the South China Sea, and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight.
India and ASEAN share a deep, robust and multifaceted relationship and the 18th India-ASEAN Summit provided an opportunity to review the various facets of this relationship and give a direction to the future of the India-ASEAN Strategic Partnership at the highest level.