This year is the 25th Anniversary of ASEAN-India relations. Many commemorative events have been outlined by ASEAN and India to celebrate the establishment of the formal dialogue mechanism between ASEAN and India.
Over the years the governments of ASEAN and India have taken concrete measures to strengthen economic relations, especially the establishment of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area. The governments must be commended for the positive actions taken to strengthen economic ties.
Despite the ASEAN-India FTA and high growth rates posted by ASEAN and India, trade and investment flows between ASEAN and India remain modest. Bilateral trade averaged US$67.96 billion over the period 2011-2015. Analysis of data from the ASEAN Secretariat indicates that ASEAN-India trade is on the declining path. Trade has been decreasing from 2012. Trade declined from US$73.1 billion to US$71.82 billion in 2012, and subsequently to US$67.86 billion (2013), US$67.71 Billion (2014) and US$58.74 billion in 2015. The 2015 figure is only 59% of the target of US$100 billion set by the leaders.
Investment flows from India to ASEAN averaged US$1,254 million per annum over the period 2010-2015. This amount is rather small compared to investment by Japan, the U.S., China and other dialogue partners of ASEAN.
The global economic situation remains volatile. The Trade and Development Report 2016 by UNCTAD indicate that global output is expected to register growth rate of 2.3% in 2016. The growth forecast for 2017 also remains subdued. In the global context, many Asian countries are expected to perform better over the next few years. ASEAN as a group is expected to grow by an average of 5.1% over the next 5 years (2017-2021) while India is also forecast to grow at an average of 7.3%. Growth will be driven by consumption and infrastructure investment. Indeed, some of the ASEAN Member States are forecast to grow over 6% in the next 5 years. It is now an opportune time for the private sector through the ASEAN-India Business Council (AIBC) to take the lead in raising the level of trade and investment flows. The AIBC has been organizing regular business activities to enhance networking between the businesses in India and ASEAN. Both ASEAN and India are among the fastest growing regions in the world.
It is now an opportune time for the private sector through the ASEAN-India Business Council (AIBC) to take the lead in raising the level of trade and investment flows. The AIBC has been organizing regular business activities to enhance networking between the businesses in India and ASEAN. Both ASEAN and India are among the fastest growing regions in the world.
India with its economic reforms and outward looking economic policies offers opportunities to ASEAN business community to invest and manufacture for the huge domestic market as well as for markets in ASEAN and other parts of the world. Likewise, ASEAN offers Indian business community huge and barrier free market of over 620 million people. Indian investors can also tap on ASEAN’s access to many markets in the region through the ASEAN free trade agreements (FTAs). To date, ASEAN has FTAs with China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand. ASEAN’s global trade per annum is over US$2.5 billion, and 50% of it accounts for imports into ASEAN. It is a very competitive market.
This year to commemorate the 25th Anniversary, AIBC in collaboration with the Federation of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and other support organizations is organizing the ASEAN – India BizTech Expo with the Theme “Bridging Borders Through Business” from 24-25 May 2017 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre KLCC), Malaysia.
There are three main components to the BIZTECH Expo & Conference as follows: Exhibition; Conference; and ASEAN-India Achievement and Excellence Awards. The Exhibition will cover high tech industries such as ICT, IoT, smart machines, customer digital assistance, automotive and aeronautical, biotech and pharmaceutical. Participating companies will be from Malaysia, ASEAN, India and other ASEAN Dialogue Partner countries. Prominent speakers and panelists from around the region will be addressing the Conference. A major highlight of the BIZTECH Expo & Conference is the ASEAN-India Achievement and Excellence Awards. AIBC has also now established a formal dialogue mechanism with the ASEAN Economic Ministers – India Consultations which is held annually around August or September of each year to represent the interest of the businesses to the joint ASEAN-India ministerial body. At the last consultations, AIBC had provided several recommendations to strengthen economic relations for the consideration of the ministers. AIBC will continue to disseminate information on ASEAN and India to the business community.
As the ASEAN Co-Chair of AIBC, I welcome companies and businesses to participate in the ASEAN-India BizTech Expo and Conference. It provides a good platform for businesses from both ASEAN and India to meet and network to form strategic alliances to grow their business in India and ASEAN. I am confident through these private sector linkages and improved air connectivity, trade and investment flows can be further enhanced between ASEAN and India.