Trade and investment cooperation should be targeted as the main engine and first priority for the ASEAN-India strategic partnership, said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc and his spouse were welcomed at Palam military airport, India, on January 24.
The PM made the suggestions in an interview he granted to several Indian newspapers before his trip to India to attend the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit and the celebration of the 69th anniversary of Indian Republic Day from January 24-26 at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In order to advance the ASEAN-India relationship to a new height, it is necessary to fully tap into the potentials of the two most dynamic economic regions with a combined population of 1.85 billion and total GDP of 3.8 trillion USD in 2017, which is the size of the world's 4th largest economy with the projection to exceed 8 trillion USD by 2025, PM Phuc said.
He also urged the two sides to effectively implement agreements on trade and investment in order to unleash the two sides' inherent potentials.
The Vietnamese leader stressed that connectivity should be placed as a strategic priority. Such projects and commitments as the India-Thailand-Myanmar Highway, the agreements on maritime transport, aviation, and the credit line of 1 billion USD to support physical and digital connectivity, among others, are of special importance and should be seamlessly implemented in order to facilitate trade and investment.
ASEAN should undertake comprehensive cooperation in various areas with India on the basis of peace, stability and rule-of-law in the region and at the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean, in the context that both sides are confronted with hot spots, geo-political tensions, religious extremism, terrorism, climate change and cyber security, he said.
Also, with the advance of the 4th Industrial Revolution, India as a leading country may forge stronger cooperation with ASEAN in such areas as innovation, connectivity of various industrial sectors and participation in global value chains, which in turn will help create an enabling environment for the development of bilateral ties.
Vietnam has been making every effort together with other ASEAN countries to realize the "ASEAN 2025 Vision" in connection with India's Act East Policy, PM Phuc emphasized.
Answering reporters’ queries on the progress on the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), he said the maintenance of peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight on all oceans in general and the region in particular is a goal and mission shared by all countries. To achieve this goal, all countries need to respect international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and relevant processes.
Negotiations between ASEAN and China for the COC began during the closing years of the last century. As the regional situation is developing in complex ways and militarization tends to mount, the successful formulation of a legally binding COC will be both an important contribution to regional peace and stability in the region in general and in the East Sea in particular, he said.
In 2017, there were a number of new developments in the process of building the COC, including the ASEAN and China's adoption of the COC Framework and the declaration of the two sides' leaders announcing the initialization of COC negotiations.
These are positive and commendable signs, and all parties need to maintain this atmosphere both during the negotiation and on the ground at sea. In particular, parties need to fully observe their obligations in the DOC and undertake relevant confidence-building measures, PM suggested.
He underlined that the ASEAN - India strategic partnership rests upon the lasting values created by time-honoured interactions of their cultures and traditions.
In the past 25 years of cooperation, ASEAN and India have established connections of long-term historical friendship to nurture the solid foundation of the trusted political ties, paving the way for a fruitful comprehensive cooperation between the two sides for peace and shared prosperity.
The Summit in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of ASEAN - India partnership held this month in New Delhi is a historic milestone that showcases the excellent relationship between ASEAN and India. Given this large and solid foundation, it is incumbent upon the leaders of ASEAN and India to take the partnership to the next level, the PM said.