Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Oct 18, 2002
Industry & Economy
PM calls for closer ties with Asean
The Prime Minister, Mr A.B. Vajpayee, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Thailand, Dr Prommin Lertsuridej, sharing a lighter moment with the External Affairs Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman, Mr K.C. Pant (extreme left), the FICCI President-Elect, Mr A.C. Muthiah, and the President, Mr R.S. Lodha, uring the Indo-Asean Business Summit in the Capital on Thursday.
NEW DELHI, Oct. 17
THE present global economic slowdown provides an immediate opportunity for closer economic integration between ASEAN and India, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, has said.
Inaugurating the first-ever India-ASEAN Business Summit here today, he stressed the need to build on the complementarities existing between India and the ASEAN economies. He held that such efforts would "cushion us" against the impact of a downturn in external markets.
"Each of our countries has expertise and even dominance in certain areas of technology. It is crucial that we cooperate by complementing our respective strengths, rather than undercutting each other," he said.
He emphasised that India and the ASEAN had mutual interest in working towards beneficial preferential and free trade arrangements.
"We need to look at conventional as well as innovative mechanisms to promote economic integration. India is already committed to reducing its peak tariff rates to East Asian levels within the next three years. We are continuously introducing measures for improving market access, harmonisation of standards and simplification of documents. We seek reciprocal measures from our partners," he said.
He also highlighted the two-way trade of less than $10 billion did not do justice to "our population of one-and-a-half billion people producing a trillion and a half dollars worth of goods and services annually." Mr Vajpayee called for acceleration in the two-way flow of information and stressed the need for greater awareness of opportunities among the businesses.
Stating that India attached the greatest importance to the initiative for ASEAN integration, Mr Vajpayee pointed out that India had also been consistently supporting all cooperative ventures that promote development within the SAARC.
"Although we have been foiled in this effort by unrelated political obstacles, we are now focussing our attention on sub-regional cooperation within SAARC, as well as regional and sub-regional cooperation with groupings like Asean. The sub-continental size of India's market and the wealth of its resources make it a credible economic partner for regional and sub-regional organisations," Mr Vajpayee said.
Mr Vajpayee also made a case for a making the business summit a "traditional curtain raiser" for the Indo-ASEAN summit, so that the economic component of the summit was enhanced. The Indo-ASEAN summit is to be held in Cambodia next fortnight.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, Dr Promin Lertsuridej, said that India and ASEAN should learn to trust and invest among "ourselves" based upon acceptable international standards of safety and efficacy.
Dr Lertsuridej suggested that the proposal of developing an "Asian Bond" scheme for long-term capital investments, which would enable the Asian savings to be invested safely and securely in their own financial instruments, should be considered.
He said that the lessons from the past Asian financial crises had taught the need for checks and balances between domestic and external demands, especially to reduce dependence on rapid external capital flows and investment that "destabilise our economies" without any rhyme or reason.
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