Deputy Foreign Minister and head of Vietnam ASEAN SOM Nguyen Quoc Dung and Secretary of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Preeti Saran co-chaired the 20th ASEAN-India Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) in Hanoi on April 5-6
Delegates highlighted the important role played by the ASEAN-India dialogue relationship in ensuring peace, stability and cooperation in the region and hailed the success of the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in January 2018, which was seen as an event of great significance that opened up a new chapter in bilateral ties.
They extolled the progress of the implementation of the Action Plan for 2016-2020 and a raft of priority fields for 2016-2018. Up to March 2018, 75 out of 130 activities in the Action Plan have been finalized, equivalent to 60 % after two years.
The two sides consented to push their strategic partnership in a pragmatic and effective manner, particularly in priority fields of their strength.
The officials vowed to enhance bilateral trade and investment ties by effectively carrying out free trade agreements in goods, services and investment, promoting connectivity in the private sector, and facilitating small and medium-sized enterprises’ access to technologies and capital sources.
They underlined the need to effectively undertake projects and initiatives on road, navigation, aviation and digital connectivity.
The ASEAN officials lauded India’s sharing of experience in building smart cities, developing the sea-based economy, and helping ASEAN and India firms form regional value chains, effectively join global value chains and narrow development gap.
Regarding regional and global issues, they suggested bolstering coordination in security, including cyber security, and the fight against terrorism, extreme violence, trans-national crimes and climate change.
They also spoke of their appreciation for proposals to realize initiatives announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit such as opening a digital village in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, designating 2019 as the Year of ASEAN-India Tourism, offering doctorate scholarships to ASEAN member states, and running training courses on electricity use and transmission, telecom and cyber technology.
Preeti Saran affirmed India’s policy of respecting ASEAN’s central role in regional processes and committed to assisting ASEAN in building its community.
She also glowingly spoke of Vietnam’s role as the coordinator of ASEAN – India relations, noting that ASEAN’s close coordination will make positive contributions to deepening mutual understanding towards a region of equality, openness and inclusiveness based on rules.
On the occasion, she lauded Vietnam’s role as the coordinator of ASEAN – India relations over the recent past, adding that ASEAN’s close coordination will make active contributions to the enhancement of mutual understanding, towards a region of fairness, openness and inclusiveness based on rules.
Deputy FM Dung said that the “Act East” Policy proposed by the Indian PM is a demonstration of growing ASEAN-India ties, thereby making practical contributions to peace, stability and development in the region.
Developing the sea-based economy and strengthening inclusive connectivity, especially digital connectivity, are key factors behind the promotion of the ASEAN-India partnership to a new height with a market of nearly 2 billion people and a gross domestic product of more than US$3.8 trillion per year, he said.
Concerning the regional and international situation, the two sides praised the resumed negotiations and hoped that an effective and legally-binding Code of Conduct in the East Sea will be realized soon.