India’s proactive Act East policy hinges heavily on the ASEAN free trade group and it is the many emerging economies in this collective that offer growth opportunities for Indian companies.
The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) comprises of the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. India’s focus on a strengthened and multi-faceted relationship with ASEAN was reinvigorated at the 12th ASEAN India Summit in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, in November 2014, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally flagged up the Act East Policy.
ASEAN is pegged as India’s fourth-largest trading partner and India its sixth largest. The annual trade between India and the collective declined from $76.53 billion in 2014-15 to $65.04 billion in 2015-16, essentially due to declining commodity prices amid a general global economic slowdown.
In September this year, addressing the 14th ASEAN-India Summit in Vientiane, Lao PDR, Prime Minister Modi said: “Our partnership with ASEAN seeks to craft a response through coordination, cooperation at multiple levels.”