ASEAN, Indian and Japanese senior officials and private sector involved in connectivity came together at the Symposium on “Towards Realisation of ASEAN Connectivity Plus: Moving Forward with ASEAN-India Connectivity” in Bangkok, Thailand on 27 November 2013 to promote greater ASEAN-India engagement and cooperation on connectivity.
The Symposium exchanged views on critical building blocks of ASEAN-India connectivity, which include realising the Thailand – Myanmar – India Trilateral Highway, the Mekong – India Economic Corridor (MIEC), financing modalities, and private sector participation. H.E. Mr. Pradap Pibulsonggram, representative of Thailand to the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee, said that “the benefits of ASEAN-India connectivity would be realised through better understanding of initiatives, regular exchanges of information and joint policy discussions among all relevant parties”.
The completion and operationalisation of vital infrastructure links between ASEAN and India are of paramount importance as they will facilitate movement of goods between the two parties. Secretary-General of ASEAN, H.E. Mr. Le Luong Minh gave the keynote address and emphasised the importance of “exploring creative approaches to financing, creating an enabling environment and developing effective institutions at the national, sub-regional and regional levels, to enhance ASEAN-India connectivity.”
H.E. Mr. Anil Wadhwa, Ambassador of India to Thailand, stressed that “while ASEAN is working with India on the Trilateral Highway and MIEC, there is a need for both the initiatives to be supplemented by an ASEAN-India Transit Transport Agreement”. The participation of private sector is critical to achieve ASEAN-India Connectivity. H.E. Mr. Kimihiro Ishikane, Ambassador of Japan to ASEAN concurred and mentioned that “companies have developed broad and rich supply-chain networks in ASEAN and India, which are also connected to Japan. It is most likely that strengthening ASEAN-India connectivity will create new business opportunities for many companies in ASEAN and India, including Japanese companies”.
The Symposium was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand in cooperation with the Ministry of External Affairs of India and supported by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund.