BANGKOK: Given the close ties between Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members and India, both parties should “redouble” efforts in the pursuit of economic integration, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on on Sunday (Nov 3).
Speaking at the 16th ASEAN-India Summit, Mr Lee said that given “good relations and multi-faceted cooperation” between ASEAN and India, there are potentially three ways in which cooperation can be deepened.
“First, we should redouble efforts to pursue economic integration,” said Mr Lee, pointing out that ASEAN and India have a combined market of almost 2 billion people and more than US$5.5 trillion in Gross Domestic Product.
“And related to this, in accordance with the Delhi Declaration, we can enhance economic opportunities by growing our transport connectivity. Therefore, I hope the ASEAN-India Air Transport Agreement and ASEAN-India Maritime Transport Agreement can be expeditiously concluded,” he added.
ASEAN and India also share a common interest in maintaining regional peace and security and should work together in new areas such as cybersecurity, said Mr Lee.
“Singapore recently launched the ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre for Excellence,” he said, adding that he looks forward to "partnering India to help strengthen the region’s cyber capacity and resilience.”
Thirdly, both sides can also work together on sustainable development, which includes tackling transboundary environmental challenges, said Mr Lee.
ASEAN has also made sustainable development its area of focus through means such as its adoption of the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in ASEAN Region earlier this year, Mr Lee added.
He highlighted the launch of the ASEAN Sustainable Urbanisation Strategy and the ASEAN Smart Cities Network. Mr Lee welcomed India's participation in the latter and said he looked forward to "exchanging views on these issues and more".
He also commended India’s efforts to mitigate climate change, which include increasing its renewable energy capacity, and launching the Jal Jeevan Mission for water conservation, rainwater harvesting, and water resources development.
Added Mr Lee: “As a fellow maritime nation, Singapore fully shares India’s desire also to strengthen maritime cooperation, including through enhancing maritime connectivity, marine environmental protection and promoting the sustainable use of marine resources.”