Monday, September 25, 2017

India ASEAN trade tipped to hit $50b

Mr S M Krishna surrounded by reporters and photographers at a press conference in New Delhi. Photo: Win Nyunt LwinMr S M Krishna surrounded by reporters and photographers at a press conference in New Delhi. Photo: Win Nyunt Lwin

India is increasingly looking east – towards ASEAN and Myanmar – instead of west in its trading policy, a major Indian businessman has said.

The chairman of the Mumbai-based Western Regional Council of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Mr Sushil Jiwarajka, said this was happening as consumption was rising in Asian countries, but falling in western countries.

Bilateral trade between India and ASEAN is set to reach US$50 billion this year, and could amount to $100 billion by 2015.

India’s Foreign Minister, Mr S M Krishna, said the coming into force this month of the India-ASEAN Free Trade Area in goods has opened up new possibilities for the expansion of India’s trade with the region. He said he hoped that agreements on trade in services and investments would also be concluded soon.

Speaking at the Regional Security and Cooperation Dialogue, held at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Delhi on January 21, Mr Krishna said: “People-to-people contacts and cultural and academic exchanges between India and the ASEAN region have continued to grow.” The minister said India-ASEAN cooperation covered trade and investment, science and technology, human resource development, health and pharmaceuticals, space sciences, agriculture, information and communications technology, transport and infrastructure, tourism, culture and small and medium enterprises.

ASEAN’s position in India’s total trade relative to EU and North America has improved over the past 10 years, while the share of Indian exports sent to the EU and North America has been constantly declining. As ASEAN’s share has risen, the share of Indian imports from both EU and North America has eroded in the past decade, a statement by FICCI said.

FICCI analysis shows that both India and the ASEAN region have attained significant growth in exports at rates higher than the global average over the past two decades.

Today, India-ASEAN trade amounts to $45 billion.

Mr Krishna also said a regional approach on energy matters could accommodate competing demands and constraints while shifting the focus from competition to cooperation based on mutual interests.

“We look forward to continued engagement with ASEAN countries and our partners in the East Asia Summit on this issue,” he said.

“We strongly believe in sharing our developmental experiences with our fellow developing countries. We have been happy to participate in the development cooperation program with ASEAN countries,” Mr Krishna said.

An increase in regional trade requires not just reaching agreement among countries, but also improving infrastructure and facilities in all sectors, he said.

“The next 10 years is the golden period, and there is no reason why we cannot meet the target of $100 billion worth of trade [between India and ASEAN] by 2015.”

According to FICCI figures, India exported to Myanmar goods worth $185.43 million in 2007-2008, up from $139.95 million in 2006-2007, while imports rose from $782 in 2006-2007 to $809.94 million in 2007-2008.