ASEAN-India Center to Boost Economic and Cultural Relations

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Jul. 5 – New Delhi is now home to the newly inaugurated ASEAN-India Center (AIC), a resource center designed to increase political and economic relations between India and the 10-nation ASEAN bloc. The center is sponsored by the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, a think tank managed by the Ministry of External Affairs in India.

“[The AIC] is meant to be a resource center for us, as well as a hub for bringing together experts from both sides, a networking of think thanks,” said Ashok Kantha, High Commissioner of India.

The AIC will seek to facilitate increased exposure between India and ASEAN by focusing on strengthening the Three Pillars of the ASEAN Community – economic, political and socio-cultural cooperation between member nations and regional partners. Furthermore, the ASEAN-India Centre will act as a meeting space for thought-leaders and politicians to discuss and develop strategies to enhance cultural ties between India and the ASEAN bloc.

In a sign of India’s commitment to enhancing its relationships with the ASEAN bloc, the AIC was inaugurated just six months after plans for the creation of the center were agreed upon during the Indian-ASEAN Commemorative Summit held in 2012.

The establishment of the AIC is an important step for Indian-ASEAN relations and creates a “special corridor of cooperation not seen anywhere before,” noted Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

“These physical bonds will be strengthened by digital links, which will help our younger generations to network better… [and] will help unleash the vast economic potential of our region, accelerate development and deepen our strategic partnership,” added Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

India has been working with the ASEAN countries since 2003 to develop a comprehensive economic partnership to increase trade between the nations and to reinvigorate its Look East Policy, which seeks to increase economic relations with India’s eastern neighbors.

India and ASEAN are currently negotiating a services and investment pact, which represents the final piece of the their Free Trade Agreement. Bilateral trade between India and ASEAN reached US$80 billion in 2011-12 with the goal to reach US$100 billion by 2015.

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