New Delhi Correspondent
In the midst of a trade war unleashed by US President Donald Trump, India on Thursday called eschewing protectionism and nationalism and avoid a return to great power rivalries in international relations.
Addressing the tenth edition of the Delhi Dialogue attended by many ministers and senior officials from South East Asian countries and Chief Ministers from India’s north-eastern states were present, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said India’s “vision of the Indo-Pacific not only involves physical inter connectivity but also entails building bridges of trust, based on mutual respect, giving due regard for sovereignty and territorial integrity, consultation, transparency, viability and sustainability. “Finally, there is an imperative need to eschew protectionism, nationalism and avoid a return to great power rivalries,”she said.
India, Swaraj said, has been working with ASEAN towards evolving a regional security architecture which is focused on ASEAN’s centrality and reiterated the importance of peaceful settlement of disputes in keeping with international law and finding collaborative solutions to emerging and non-traditional challenges is important.
She said India is ready to strengthen cooperation in areas of disaster management, search and rescue operations, anti piracy, counter terrorism, counter-nuclear proliferation and collaborate on maritime domain awareness. “We will also work towards ecologically sustainable development of ocean resources in a collaborative framework,” she added.
Swaraj hoped the negotiations for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations involving ASEAN and its six Free Trade Area partners would be finalised soonest possible.
She invited companies from ASEAN countries to invest in India in sectors such as smart cities, roads, highways, ports, railways, power and urban infrastructure.
Swaraj said the single most important ingredient that can make a qualitative shift in India’s economic engagement with ASEAN is a major boost towards infrastructure and connectivity. And “we are making substantial progress on all fronts, both bilaterally and regionally.”
She said India has made considerable progress in implementing the India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway and the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project in Myanmar. “Our recent agreement with Indonesia to develop port infrastructure in Sabang is yet another step in this direction,” she said.
The Indian Minister said India is also working on specific proposals to set up a regional high-capacity fibre-optic network, supplemented by national rural broadband networks and digital villages in remote areas and offered US$ 1 billion Line of Credit, to help finance these and other connectivity projects with ASEAN.