India’s ‘Act East’ policy, upgraded from the ‘Look East’ policy in 2014, serves as a platform for deepening and strengthening its relationship with ASEAN and the East Asian economies. Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) have been a special focus area for India. Driven by proactive governance, abundant natural resources, and a competitive workforce, the ASEAN countries have been attracting investments from across the world.
India has also strategically focused on human capacity development and small projects with high impact to address poverty alleviation. There is certainly scope to increase bilateral trade, including exports, as India’s share of the total trade with these countries has remained stagnant. Moreover, a high proportion of India’s exports are primary commodities such as meat products to Vietnam and sugar to Myanmar. Among manufactured products, automotive, pharmaceuticals, and electrical goods are the chief export goods.
The effort of working with the ASEAN members should focus on increasing our imports from these countries. While India has offered zero-duty import facility under its LDC programme, leveraging this adequately would require Indian companies to boost their investments in ASEAN. A large number of prominent Indian companies are already invested in the ASEAN region across sectors such as IT services, energy and mining, steel and consumer products.
The November-December edition of the Multilateral Newsletter highlights the key deliberations made at the 15th ASEAN Summit held in Manila, Philippines on 14 November 2017 and the ASEAN-India Connectivity Summit held in New Delhi on 11-12 December 2017. In addition, the edition covers major happenings from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), International Energy Agency (IEA), International Trade Center (ITC) and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).