External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj during the inauguration of Bharat-ASEAN Maitri Park in New Delhi (Photo: PTI)

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The countdown to mark 25 years of India’s ties with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) began today. India will host the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in New Delhi on Jan 25 – 26.

The Indonesian President Joko Widodo is scheduled to arrive on Thursday (26/1). The world leaders will attend India’s 69th Republic Day celebration at the India Gate on Friday.

The theme of the commemorative summit is “Shared Values, Common Destiny”—highlighting the commonalities between Asia’s third largest economy and the economically vibrant bloc.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bilateral meetings with the visiting ASEAN leaders comes at a time when India is keen on changing its ‘Look East’ policy to ‘Act East’ policy.

In a statement, Government of India’s spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar explained the summit itself will begin with a banquet and followed be a Leader’s Retreat for an exclusive retreat summit. Thereafter the summit will then move on to a plenary of the Commemorative Summit followed by a Gala Dinner to be hosted by Prime Minister.
One important projects has been proposed by Modi is the Indian ASEAN trilateral highway to connect North East via Myanmar to Thailand. It has been long in conceiving and implementing but the project is now on course and its expect by 2019 it will be completed, said Kumar.

“It will also help in building the larger connectivity that we see that this particular trilateral highway will, when we coordinate this with the ASEAN’s own master plan of connectivity. So it will move beyond Thailand to other countries including Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam,” He stated.

The length of India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway is approximately 1,360 kilometers. India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Task Force on Connectivity and Infrastructure has been set-up to undertake time bound work on completion of the project and also undertake negotiations on the Motor Vehicles Agreement to put soft infrastructure in place simultaneously with the completion of the Trilateral Highway and other connectivity linkages.

India and ASEAN are holding consultations on extension of Trilateral Highway to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. India and ASEAN are also working to strengthen the Maritime Connectivity.

Add by Kumar, since 2015 Prime Minister Modi had made an offer of US$1 billion line of credit for physical and digital connectivity. India also have separate lines of credit that have been offered bilaterally to Vietnam, to Indonesia and others.
Furthermore, He said, within the ASEAN-India format there is also have a commitment of $100 million ASEAN-India Fund. There is $5 million ASEAN-India Green Fund and another $5 million of ASEAN-India Science & Technology Fund.Talking about Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN in services is still stuck. The fact that all of the ASEAN member countries participated in the India-ASEAN FTA on goods, services and investments.

India’s relationship with ASEAN has emerged as a key cornerstone of ASEAN foreign policy. The relationship has evolved from the ‘Look East Policy’ enunciated in early 1990s which led India to become a Sectoral Partner of ASEAN in 1992, a Dialogue Partner in 1996 and a Summit-level Partner in 2002.

Strategic Partnerships

The India-ASEAN Strategic Partnership acquired a new momentum with the announcement of Act-East Policy in the 12th Summit in 2014. It conveyed a clear intent on the part of India to up-scaling its engagement with the ASEAN Member States.

In the last meeting at Philippines on November 2017, the leaders has made a significant initiatives during the Summit were as follows:

  1. Enhance our strategic partnership by designating security and economic cooperation in maritime domain as a focus area.
  2. Offer of joint exercises and fleet review by navies of ASEAN countries and India.
  3. Offer of coordinated patrols to address traditional and non-traditional maritime threats and undertake exercises to effectively coordinate our response to natural disasters.
  4. Offer of stepping up our economic cooperation in shared maritime domain by enhancing maritime connectivity and by working towards a Protocol on Blue Economy.
  5. Organize a Start Up Festival in India to encourage digital commerce among ASEAN-India youth
  6. Organize an ASEAN-India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on the theme, “Ancient Route, New Journey : Diaspora in the Dynamic ASEAN-India Partnership ”
  7. Host a Business Summit and an ASEAN India Business Council event in January 2018.
  8. Host ASEAN India Connectivity Summit in India
  9. Host the first working group meeting on Civil Aviation at New Delhi.


Based on ASEAN Secretariat data, cumulative foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into India from ASEAN between April 2000 to December 2016 are $54.97 billion. The major sources of FDI from ASEAN countries are Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Cumulative FDI outflows from India to ASEAN countries, from April 2007 to March 2015 was about $38.67 billion with Singapore being at the top of the list, followed by Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar.

Contact me: linda.silaen@theinsiderstories.com