Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc (left) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. — VNA/VNS Photo Thống Nhất
Viet Nam News
Trade and investment cooperation should be the main engine for ASEAN-India strategic partnership, according to Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc. In an interview with The Economic Times of India, the PM who is in India for the Indo-ASEAN Summit & Republic Day, said that effort should be made to tap the potential of the two economic regions, and suggested that United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is imperative for maritime disputes.
Has there been progress on code of conduct to stabilise South China Sea?
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 the international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and relevant processes.
Negotiations between ASEAN and China for the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea began during the closing years of the last century. As the regional situation is developing in complex ways and militarisation 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 South China Sea in particular.
In 2017, there were a number of new developments in the process of building 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 Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and undertake relevant confidence-building measures.
You are in Delhi for Indo-ASEAN Commemorative Summit. How can India & ASEAN further their ties?
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.
What is key priority for India-ASEAN strategic partnership?
Trade and investment cooperation should be targeted as the main engine and first priority for the ASEAN - India strategic partnership, and fully tap into the potentials of the two most dynamic economic regions with a population of 1.85 billion people, combined GDP of $3.8 trillion in 2017, which is the size of the world’s 4th largest economy with the projection to exceed $8 trillion by 2025; effectively implement the agreements on trade and investment in order to unleash the two sides’ inherent potentials.
Can India and ASEAN contribute to Indo-Pacific stability?
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, as we are confronted with hot spots, geo-political tensions, religious extremism, terrorism, climate change, cyber security etc.
How can connectivity initiatives bring India-ASEAN closer to each other?
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 to support physical and digital connectivity, among others, are of special importance and should be seamlessly implemented in order to facilitate trade and investment.
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. Việt Nam has been making every effort together with other ASEAN countries to realize the "ASEAN 2025 Vision" in connection with India’s Act East Policy./.