India is to open a separate diplomatic mission for ASEAN in Indonesia to deepen relations and push trade to $100 billion by 2015.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made the announcement at the 11th ASEAN-India Summit, which was held here Thursday.
Addressing the summit, Singh emphasized that ASEAN is the foremost forum for promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the dynamic Asia Pacific region.
Given the increasing economic challenges, Singh urged ASEAN and India to sign an ASEAN-India Trade in Services and Investment Agreement before the end of the year.
“India stands ready for the signature on the agreement to bolster economic partnership. I am confident that ASEAN-India trade, which was $75.6 billion in 2012, will reach $100 billion by 2015 and double by 2022,” he added.
ASEAN is India’s fourth-largest trading partner after the EU, the United States and China.
India is also engaged in negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with ASEAN that aims to create the world’s largest free trade area encompassing the major Asian economies by 2015.
“Given our vital stakes in the region, India has been closely involved in the evolution of an open, balanced and inclusive regional architecture, on the basis of the centrality of the ASEAN. India sees the East Asia Summit as a springboard to regional cooperation and integration,” said Singh.
At the summit, the ASEAN leaders encouraged both sides to look into the possibility of taking concrete steps towards the development of the Mekong India Economic Corridor, as well as the strengthening of ASEAN-India connectivity in information and communication technology, according to a chairman’s statement adopted following the meeting.
On infrastructure connectivity, India is planning to improve its roads with ASEAN, in addition to a massive highway project that will link Thailand and Myanmar as well as special economic zones and ports.
To further discuss these ideas, Singh suggested a Working Committee on Infrastructure to be established between the two sides.
The two sides were also committed to working closely together on common regional and international issues of mutual concern, such as energy security, anti-terrorism, maritime security and fighting cybercrime, according to the statement.