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Delhi Dialogue this week to boost Act East policy

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  16 Feb 2016 12:00 AM GMT

New Delhi, Feb 15: In pursuance of the government’s Act East policy, the exterl affairs ministry on Monday announced it will hold the eighth edition of the Delhi Dialogue here from February 17 to 19. The Delhi Dialogue is a premier annual track 1.5 diplomatic event to discuss the politico-security, economic and socio-cultural engagement between India and the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian tions (Asean). Held annually since 2009, this year’s edition is being held with the theme “Asean-India relations: A new paradigm”. “This is specially pertinent as we prepare to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Asean-India relations in 2017,” Anil Wadhwa, secretary (east) in the exterl affairs ministry, said while briefing the media here. Three major sessions will be held in this year’s event - academic, business and ministerial.

“This edition is going to build upon the advances that have been made, especially in the last year, towards deepening and strengthening our relationship with Asean,” Wadhwa said. “2015 witnessed an intensive engagement with Asean countries at the level of ministers, senior officials, opinion-makers, business leaders etc. and this culmited in the summit level meeting between our prime minister (rendrs Modi) and his 10 Asean counterparts in November 2015,” he said. According to Wadhwa, the Asean region is the fourth largest economy in the world with a population of 622 million, comprising largely middle income people.

“Moreover, the Asean-India Free Trade Area (FTA) has been completed with the entering into force of the Asean-India agreement on trade and services, and investments on July 1, 2015,” he said. To take advantage of this and to encourage integration of Indian producers in regiol value chains of the Asean, India’s ministry of commerce and industry was in the process of establishing a project development fund with a corpus Rs.500 crore which would help create manufacturing hubs in Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), Myanmar and Vietm, the secretary (east) said. “The regiol comprehensive economic partnership between Asean and the six FTA partners of which India is a member is expected to be filised in 2016. That will give a further boost to our trade and investment relations with Asean,” he said.

Wadhwa said that India has enhanced the Asean-India Science and Technology Development Fund from $1 million to $5 million. An Asean-India innovation platform is also on the cards.

“Renewable energy is another area of mutual interest. At the last Asean-India summit in Kuala Lumpur, our prime minister also extended an invitation to Asean countries to be part of the Intertiol Solar Alliance (ISA) which he launched in November 2015 and to partner us in sutaible energy initiatives,” he said.

The ISA is an alliance of some 120 countries situated between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn that receive sunlight for 300 or more days in a year. Wadhwa said that India was offering Asean countries 100 training slots in renewable energy in the country’s institutions.

Among the dignitaries who will be participating in this year’s Delhi Dialogue are Sofyam A. Djalil, minister for tiol development planning of Indonesia and head of the tiol Development planning Agency; U Tin Oo Lwin, deputy minister of foreign affairs of Myanmar; Vikasakdi Futrakul, vice minister of foreign affairs of Thailand; Le Hoai Trung, vice minister of foreign affairs of Vietm; Somchith Inthamith, vice minister of industry and commerce of Lao PDR; Vikram ir, member of parliament and chairperson of the Governmment Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs of Singapore as well as chairman of the Singapore-India Parliamentary Friendship Group; Kan Pharidh, under-secretary of state in the foreign ministry of Cambodia; and A.K.P. Mochtan, deputy secretary general for community and corporate affairs at the Asean Secretariat.

The Chief Ministers of two northeastern states, T.R. Zeliang of galand and Lal Thanhawla of Mizoram, will also be participating.

“Normally we talk about how to integrate the northeast with our Act East policy and in that respect what are the expectations of the northeastern states, what is required by them, what are their priorities and how they can be benefitted from this integration with Asean,” Wadhwa said. “So it helps us to articulate those views and these views are taken back by the delegates who are there to put into practice in their own countries,” he added. While the presidents of the industry bodies Ficci, CII and Assocham will address the business session on February 17, Exterl Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will host the ministerial session on February 18. The academic session on February 19 will see discussions between scholars and opinion-makers on issues like Asean and the security of Asia-Pacific and Asean-India and ocean economy dymics. (IANS)

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