|The 18th ASEAN-India took place on Thursday via videoconference. — VNA/VNS Photo Dương Giang|
HÀ NỘI — Vietnamese Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính participated in the 18th India-ASEAN Summit held via conference on Thursday, alongside other ASEAN leaders and Indian PM Narendra Modi.
At the summit, the two sides highly valued the ASEAN-India relationship, ASEAN’s sixth largest trading partner and seventh largest investor into ASEAN with total capitals in 2020 nearly quadrupling 2018’s figure, hitting US$2.06 billion.
The two sides agreed to continue to support each other in COVID-19 response and promote inclusive recovery by enhancing trade and investment exchanges, strengthening regional supply chains, and facilitating trade and goods, helping businesses access each other's markets, and effectively implementing the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area (AIFTA).
ASEAN countries pledged to make effective use of the US$1 billion credit that India committed for projects on connecting, promoting cooperation in science, technology, digital transformation, natural disaster prevention, climate change, and narrowing the development gap.
Leaders agreed to identify 2022 as the ASEAN-India Year of Friendship, with a view to celebrating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of relations and the 10th anniversary of the ASEAN-India strategic partnership next year.
ASEAN countries recognise and appreciate India’s continued support in terms of COVID-19 vaccines, drugs, and medical supplies, including its donation of US$1 million to the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund.
Speaking at the summit, Indian PM Narendra Modi emphasised the importance of strategic partnership with ASEAN, affirmed that ASEAN has a special position in India's Act East Policy and that India backs ASEAN’s central role and is fully committed to effectively participating in ASEAN-led dialogue and cooperation mechanisms, upholding international law and promote a rules-based regional order while making positive contributions to peace, security, stability, and development in the region.
Modi stated that India will accompany and support ASEAN to overcome these challenging times, cooperate with the bloc’s members to improve preventive medicine capacity and coordinate to promote sustainable recovery in the region.
During their discussions on the international and regional situation, the summit affirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the region, including the South China Sea.
The Indian PM vouched for his support for ASEAN’s stance, and efforts to assert its role in promoting dialogue and enhancing trust-building, and fully and effectively implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), working towards an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) that is in accordance with international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982.
India welcomes and reaffirms its support for ASEAN's role in promoting dialogue, reconciliation, and assisting Myanmar in finding solutions to stabilise the situation.
Addressing the summit, PM Chính reiterated that ASEAN and India are historical partners and neighbours, have a common view in shared benefits and responsibility to contribute to peace, prosperity in the region.
He called on India to help ASEAN develop the pharmaceutical industry, gain quick access to COVID-19 vaccines and drugs as well as transfer vaccine and drug technology for local production, share information and experience in dealing with COVID-19 as well as other potential diseases in the future.
The Vietnamese Government leader proposed boosting cooperation in areas essential for recovery such as digital transformation and narrowing the digital gap, continuing to support ASEAN’s efforts to narrow the development gap through the Initiative for ASEAN Integration and the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation frameworks, which plays an important role in helping ASEAN promote equitable, sustainable and inclusive development, especially in the face of complex impacts of pandemic and other global challenges such as climate change, resource depletion, aging population, and environmental pollution.
PM Chính asked India to continue to support and actively contribute to ASEAN’s efforts to maintain peace, security, and stability in the South China Sea, uphold international law and UNCLOS 1982, and settle the disputes and differences by peaceful means – dialogue and diplomatic processes – to ensure that the South China Sea is a sea of peace, cooperation, and development.
The Vietnamese PM wants more bilateral cooperation in maritime security and safety, conserving the marine environment and marine ecology, maritime linkages, enhancing capacity for rescue at sea, and counter-piracy, and combating illegal fishing.
At the end of the summit, the two sides adopted the ASEAN-India Joint Statement on Cooperation in the Implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific for Peace, Stability and Prosperity in the Region. — VNS