5th ASEAN-India Business summit
The 5th Asean-India Business Summit, held at the Berjaya Times Square Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on March 6, 2023, was a platform for discussing the future of economic engagement between India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This year’s summit was part of the Asean-India Year of Friendship and was jointly organized by the Indian Government’s Economic Diplomacy Division and the Malaysian Government’s International Trade and Industry Ministry. The summit brought together business leaders, policymakers, and experts from India and ASEAN countries to discuss opportunities and challenges in the economic relationship.
India-ASEAN Economic Relations: A Brief Overview
India’s trade and investment relationship with ASEAN has been growing steadily over the years. India has been a dialogue partner of ASEAN since 1992, and the two sides signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in goods in 2009. In 2014, India and ASEAN signed an agreement to promote services trade, which came into effect in 2015. India is now negotiating an FTA in services and investments with ASEAN, which is expected to further deepen economic engagement.
In 2019-20, the total trade between India and ASEAN stood at US$ 97.6 billion, making ASEAN India’s fourth-largest trading partner after China, the US, and the UAE. India’s exports to ASEAN were worth US$ 38.3 billion, and its imports from ASEAN were worth US$ 59.3 billion. The major items of India’s exports to ASEAN were refined petroleum, pharmaceuticals, organic chemicals, and vehicles. The major items of India’s imports from ASEAN were mineral fuels, machinery, electrical machinery, and chemicals.
The 5th Asean-India Business Summit: Key Highlights
The theme of this year’s summit was “Digital Connectivity: India-ASEAN Partnership.” The summit focused on strengthening trade and investment ties between India and ASEAN, with a particular focus on digital technology partnerships and fintech. A special session was held on India-Malaysia bilateral trade and investment engagement, which provided a platform for Malaysian businesses to explore investment opportunities in India.
In his opening remarks, India’s External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar, emphasized the need for India and ASEAN to work together to leverage the potential of the digital economy. He highlighted the importance of data protection and cybersecurity in facilitating digital connectivity between the two sides.
The ASEAN-India Digital
The summit also saw the launch of the ASEAN-India Digital Partnership initiative, which aims to promote collaboration between India and ASEAN in areas such as e-commerce, digital payments, and digital infrastructure. The initiative will be led by a high-level task force comprising representatives from India and ASEAN countries.
The participants at the summit discussed various issues related to the digital economy, such as the need for harmonization of regulations, cross-border data flows, and digital skills development. The summit also featured panel discussions on topics such as trade and investment opportunities in ASEAN, the role of startups in promoting digital connectivity, and the potential of fintech in India-ASEAN cooperation.