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India for greater trade engagement with East Asia

business Updated: Sep 17, 2007 21:21 IST
Ajay Kaul

Projecting itself as an emerging "vibrant economy" that will offer larger opportunities in the future, India on Monday pitched for greater engagement with East Asia to find its own "destiny" while rejecting the "narrower" or "restrictive" concept of Asian economic integration.

Emphasising that the processes of integration should not be on the basis of "geography" but "mutually-gainful opportunity", External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee questioned whether Asia's interests would be served if processes like ASEAN exclude those countries "whose development is integral to the region as a whole".

He favoured establishment of Asian Regional Trade Agreement by coalescing of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) among member countries of the region, saying it was "pivotal towards the integration of Asia into a common unit".

Delivering a lecture here on 'India's Look East Policy', he said the "future depends on the integration of Asia as a continent without artificial geographical sub-divisions."

Noting that adoption of 'Look East Policy' marked a "strategic shift" in the country's vision, Mukherjee said its "essential philosophy" is to "find its destiny by linking itself more and more with its Asian partners" and rest of the world.

"We see great value in pursuing economic cooperation with fellow East Asians in the pursuit of a truly integrated Asian economy that will draw on the economic potential of India and China, the technology and management expertise of Korea and Japan and the dynamism of ASEAN," the External Affairs Minister said.