Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Indonesia to attend the ASEAN-India Summit comes as a strategic move ahead of the G20 summit scheduled in India. During this visit, he is expected to engage in discussions on trade and security matters with ASEAN member countries, which include nations like Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, Brunei, Thailand, Laos, and Singapore. One of the key announcements that might come out of this summit is the potential launch of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in ASEAN countries, signifying greater economic cooperation and digital connectivity in the region.
This visit highlights India’s commitment to strengthening ties with Southeast Asian nations and fostering deeper economic and strategic partnerships in the context of the ASEAN-India Summit, setting the stage for important discussions and potential agreements on various fronts between India and the ASEAN member states.
The ASEAN Summit started on September 5 and will run until September 8. PM Modi is set to join the summit on September 6-7.
PM Modi to Join Indo-Pacific Forum as Well
As per the Ministry of External Affairs, the trade between India and ASEAN countries amounted to Rs 10 lakh crore in 2022-23. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has previously participated in 9 ASEAN Summits. For this ASEAN Summit, Indonesia has organized a special program called the Indo Pacific Forum. Through this forum, ASEAN nations will discuss their objectives in the Indo-Pacific and aim to enhance connectivity among ASEAN countries in the region.
Concerns have arisen due to China’s increasing involvement in the Indo-Pacific region. When questioned about whether a statement regarding China would be issued, Foreign Eastern Affairs Secretary Saurabh Kumar mentioned that it’s challenging to predict the topics of discussion at this moment. However, discussions on matters of common interest among the nations are likely to take place.
India signed the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) with ASEAN countries just last year, making Prime Minister Modi’s visit highly significant. A Comprehensive Strategic Partnership typically leads to stronger bilateral relations, encompassing cooperation in areas like security, economics, and conservation. India is also intensifying its ties with ASEAN nations to address China’s influence in the region effectively.
Kamala Harris to Hold Meeting with Russian Foreign Minister at ASEAN
The ASEAN Summit has garnered the presence of prominent global leaders, including US Vice President Kamala Harris, Chinese Premier Li Qiang, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Nevertheless, contentious issues like Myanmar and the South China Sea have the potential to spark disagreements between member states and dialogue partners, as per reports by Al Jazeera.
Myanmar, despite being an ASEAN member, has grappled with internal turmoil since a coup two years ago, with the military detaining Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi on charges of election fraud. ASEAN nations have struggled to formulate a unified strategy to address this crisis.
Furthermore, recent incidents involving the Chinese military, such as the attack on a Philippine ship in the South China Sea, have escalated tensions in the region. The US has accused China of sowing instability and encroaching on the territorial sovereignty of others. The South China Sea dispute, involving five ASEAN member countries and China, remains a major point of contention.
ASEAN countries are seeking the support of the US and India in countering China’s influence in the region. While these nations were heavily reliant on China due to the economic crisis of the 1990s, they have since bolstered their ties with the US and India to diversify their strategic partnerships, particularly as China has expanded its influence in the region.
The ASEAN Summit is a significant platform for discussing regional issues, trade, and security. It assumes added importance due to recent developments, and the deliberations during the summit will likely shape the future dynamics in the Indo-Pacific region.