By Virgilio DC Galvez
India’s external affairs minister Shri S M Krishna on Thursday said India is committed to deepening relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), calling on the 10-member bloc to focus on efforts aimed at strengthening economic ties.
“I believe that India and ASEAN can do so by concentrating even greater efforts at physical connectivity. This aspect fits well with our own domestic priority of upgrading infrastructure,” he said at the opening session of the two-day India-ASEAN Delhi Dialogue III.
“If the two can proceed in tandem, it is possible that in the space of next five to seven years, we will see a dramatic flowering of India-ASEAN relations,” Krishna said.
India will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its acceptance as a dialogue partner of ASEAN and has invited ASEAN leaders for a commemorative summit in New Delhi next year. Trade between India and ASEAN has soared to US$ 50 billion and is forecast to reach a high of US$ 70 billion in 2012.
India has entered with a Free Trade Agreement in Goods with ASEAN and is pushing for the conclusion of negotiations to extend the pact to investment and services this year.