The high-profile ASEAN Business Summit slated to take place in the Philippines capital on Monday and to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will go a long way into strengthening economic partnerships and is likely to take initiatives at reducing non-tariff barriers and at ensuring better connectivity and mobility of people and goods.
The Prime Minister will attend the crucial meeting along with leaders of various member nations of ASEAN. He will also participate in a meeting of leaders of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
The RCEP in effect comprises of 10-member ASEAN members and also six other countries -- India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. "Officials of 16-member nations met here at the margins of high profile ASEAN Summit and other meetings," a source in the Union Commerce Ministry said. The group is engaged in negotiations for a free trade pact.
The deliberations will be important, as this would also help India "enhance our trade and investment ties with ASEAN member-states" -- which constitutes a significant over 10 per cent of India's external trade, according to Preeti Saran, Secretary East, in the Ministry of External Affairs.
"The ASEAN region along with India together comprises combined population of 1.85 billion people, which is one fourth of the global population and a combined GDP of over $ 3.8 trillion, creating one of the largest economic spaces in the world," she has said in Delhi last week.
Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Philippines since late Indira Gandhi visited last in 1981.
Investment from ASEAN in the last 17 years has been over $ 70 billion accounting for more than 17 per cent of our total FDI and Indian investment in ASEAN during the same period has been more than $ 40 billion, a Ministry source said. In Philippines, experts are also optimistic about the outcome of the ASEAN Business Summit -- and other such meetings.
"If in the past two centuries, the world was dominated by the Atlantic/European countries, this century will be for the Asia Pacific. Forecasts show that by the year 2050, Asia could raise its per capita income by six times, catching up to Europe's level today," says Filipino architect Felino A Palafox, Jr. However, he also pointed out, "The shift of focus on the Asia Pacific region can be credited to China's great performance, surpassing those of the United States in terms of the purchasing power parity of GDP indicators in 2014. Setting China as an example, Asian countries have been following suit and raising their performance—Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand".
In recognition of this economic shift, businesses have been flowing in, strengthening their ties to Asian countries, whereas Asian countries have also been taking advantage of this shift to improve their infrastructure and tourism, architect Felino wrote in 'The Manila Times'.
Prime Minister Modi's visit to Philippines comes in what is stated as "a landmark year" because India and ASEAN as a block are celebrating 25 years of India-ASEAN dialogue partnership, 15 years of summit level participation and 5 years of New Delhi's strategic partnership with ASEAN.
Modi will also hold a bilateral meeting likely on Monday with President Rodrigo Duterte of Philippines -- who is also the current Chair of ASEAN