In Singapore summits, PM Modi pitches for enhanced trade, better Indo-Pacific connectivity
India’s commitment to an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region and desire for maritime cooperation were highlighted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the East Asia Summit and Asean-India Summit in Singapore on Thursday.
Following the Asean-India Summit over breakfast, Modi participated in the East Asia Summit, with both meetings focusing on issues such as increased connectivity and trade and the Indo-Pacific region, where India is emerging as a key player.
In a tweet, Modi said he had cemented “old bonds in pursuit of a glorious future” during his interaction with Asean leaders at the informal breakfast summit. “We are happy that ties with Asean are strong and are contributing to a peaceful and prosperous planet,” he said.
External affairs ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said Modi’s participation in the breakfast summit reflected “Asean centrality in our Act East Policy and Indo-Pacific region”. Modi reaffirmed “cooperation in maritime domain and centrality of trade and investment towards prosperity of Indo-Pacific,” he said.
In his remarks at the Asean-India Summit, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged India to join the 10-nation grouping in a push to create the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest free trade area, by 2019. “I am glad that we have made tremendous progress this year to advance the RCEP negotiations. We are now close to the finishing line, although further work remains to finalise the remaining details,” Lee said.
“This period of geopolitical uncertainty gives new impetus for Asean and like-minded partners like India to deepen our cooperation,” he added. Lee called for better sea, air, land and digital connectivity between Asean and India.
At the East Asia Summit, Modi said he shared his “thoughts on enhancing multilateral cooperation, economic and cultural ties among member nations” and “reiterated India’s commitment to a peaceful and prosperous Pacific region”.
Kumar tweeted Modi had reiterated India’s vision of “strengthening maritime cooperation and commitment to a balanced RCEP”.