HANOI, 19 March 2016 – Senior Officials from ASEAN and India, meeting at the 18th ASEAN-India Senior Officials Meeting (AISOM) held in Ha Noi, Viet Nam on 18 March 2016, reaffirmed the commitment to further enhance cooperation and strengthen relations between both sides within the framework of the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership.

Noting ASEAN-India ties have deepened and broadened significantly since formal ties were established twenty-four years ago, the 18th AISOM concluded that the Partnership should be enhanced even further, taking into account the recent developments and new focus areas such as the formal establishment of the ASEAN Community, India’s Act East policy and the growing relevance and importance of regional mechanisms in which India participates such as the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus) and the East Asia Summit, in addition to other established mechanisms. In this regard, the Meeting noted India’s successful hosting of the ADMM Plus multilateral exercise on Humanitarian Mine Action and Peacekeeping Operations in early March 2016.

The Meeting agreed that good progress has been made in the implementation of Leaders’ decisions made at the ASEAN-India Summit held in Kuala Lumpur in November last year. To further consolidate the Partnership, the Senior Officials agreed to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of the agreed projects and activities of the new ASEAN-India Plan of Action 2016-2020 that was endorsed by the Leaders last year. As 2017 coincides with the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN and the 25th Anniversary of ASEAN-India ties, both sides will propose and discuss activities and projects focusing on cultural and people-to-people links, to be implemented next year as part of the 25th Anniversary commemorative activities.

The Meeting discussed the ASEAN Connectivity plans and noted India’s commitment to support ASEAN realise its connectivity goals, including the establishment of a US$1 billion line of credit for ASEAN Members States to tap for connectivity projects.  Recognising the importance of people-to-people connectivity, the Meeting called for enhanced cultural exchanges involving youth, media and intellectuals, and in this regard noted the plan to convene the 2nd International Conference on ASEAN-India Cultural and Civilizational Links in Jakarta this year

On economic cooperation, both sides agreed that more could be done to further strengthen trade and investment, in particular to achieve the proposed target of at least US$200 billion in two-way trade by 2022. Both sides noted the importance of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and agreed to work toward its completion by this year.

The Meeting also discussed regional and international issues of common concern such as maritime security, terrorism and violent extremism, trafficking in persons, climate change and disaster management. India reaffirmed the importance of and its continued support for ASEAN Centrality in the regional architecture.

The Meeting was Co-Chaired by H.E. Mr. Le Hoai Trung, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and SOM Leader of Viet Nam, and H.E. Mrs. Preeti Saran, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs of India and SOM Leader of India. Vietnam will be ASEAN’s Coordinator for ASEAN-India Dialogue Relations from 2015 to 2018. The 18th AISOM was held in the traditional spirit of warmth and friendship.