“Editorial made simple: The ASEAN outreach”

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The ASEAN outreach

• Philippines has been the centre of attraction because of
o Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India summit
o special celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of ASEAN
o East Asia summits
o Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) leaders’ meeting.
o ASEAN Business and Investment Summit.
• Modi joined these meetings, underscoring India’s commitment to deepening ties with the ASEAN member states and the wider Indo-Pacific region as part of the ‘Act East’ policy.

Indo-Pacific region:

• The Indo-Pacific region is now central to global politics and economics.
• China is the most important player in the region & Chinese President Xi Jinping made clear in his speech that Beijing is now more confident than ever of projecting regional and global power.
• Adding to china’s fortune, administration in the U.S. lacks seriousness of purpose and is unable to communicate effectively its priorities for the region.
• Thus the transition is very significant for countries like India

ASEAN & India:

• India’s relationship with ASEAN is a key pillar of its foreign policy India’s Act East Policy.
• In a symbolic move, all 10 ASEAN heads of state have been invited to be guests of honour for next year’s Republic Day function.
• Targeting China, Mr. Modi also assured ASEAN of “steady support towards achieving a rules-based regional security”
• ASEAN members and India together consist one of the largest economic regions with a total population of about 1.8 billion.
• ASEAN is currently India’s fourth largest trading partner, accounting for 10.2% of India’s total trade.
• India is ASEAN’s seventh largest trading partner.
• India’s service-oriented economy perfectly complements the manufacturing-based economies of ASEAN countries.

China’s Profile grows:

• U.S. continues to be unsure of its security commitments.
• Trump gave mixed signals during his Asia trip where his ‘America First’ policy was on full display.
• China has actually managed to emerge as a beacon of open and free global trade order.

For a Balance of power:

• Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being resurrected without the U.S.
• Indo-Pacific quadrilateral involving Japan, Australia, India and the U.S. is back.
• New Delhi is no longer diffident about engaging with other regional players if it helps to further Indian interests.

Way Forward:

• Period of transition very significant for countries like India that have a stake in the long-term stability.
• Formidable security challenges remain intact.
• India needs to do a more convincing job as a beneficial strategic partner of ASEAN.
• ASEAN nations should be clearer and more specific in their expectations from New Delhi