• India participated in the 18th India-ASEAN Summit at the invitation of Brunei, the current Chair of ASEAN.


Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

  • It is a regional grouping that promotes economic, political, and security cooperation.
  • It was established in August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the founding fathers of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
  • Its chairmanship rotates annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of Member States.
  • ASEAN countries have a total population of 650 million people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of USD 2.8 trillion. It is India’s 4th largest trading partner with about USD 86.9 billion in trade.
  • Members:
    • ASEAN brings together ten Southeast Asian states – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – into one organisation.


  • The substantial changes in the world’s political and economic landscape since the early ’90s as well as India’s march toward economic liberalisation, have prompted India to focus on strengthened and multi-faceted partnership with ASEAN.
  • The ‘Look East Policy’ was born out of India’s need for economic space. The Look East policy has evolved into a vibrant, action-oriented “Act East policy” in recent years.
  • India also takes part in regional forums such as the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM), East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+), and Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF).
  • The partnership between India and ASEAN is a critical pillar of our foreign policy and the bedrock of our Act East Policy.
  • The relationships through a strategic partnership in 2012 was a natural evolution from India’s status as an ASEAN sectoral partner in 1992, dialogue partner in 1996, and summit level partner in 2002. There are 30 dialogue mechanisms between ASEAN and India.


  • Throughout 2017, India and ASEAN commemorated 25 years of dialogue, 15 years of summit-level interaction, and 5 years of strategic partnership by holding over 60 commemorative activities in India and through the missions in the ASEAN Member States, culminating in the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit on the theme “Shared Values, Common Destiny” on January 25th, 2018 in New Delhi.
  • PM Narendra Modi and ASEAN leaders jointly adopted the Delhi Declaration at the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit and decided to prioritise maritime cooperation as a major area of cooperation under the ASEAN-India strategic alliance.
  • As India’s Guest of Honour at the 69th Republic Day Parade, the leaders of ASEAN countries made an extraordinary gesture.
  • It was an honour for India to welcome the leaders of all 10 ASEAN countries at the Summit in such a short period. The India-ASEAN trade and investment relationship has been steadily improving


  • The economic and investment relationship between India and ASEAN has been progressively improving, with ASEAN now being India’s fourth-largest trading partner.
  • India’s trade with ASEAN is worth US$ 81.33 billion, or roughly 10.6% of the country’s total commerce. India’s overall exports to ASEAN account for 11.28% of the country’s total.
  • FDI inflows into India from ASEAN nations totaled US$68.91 billion from April 2000 to March 2018, whereas FDI outflows from India to ASEAN countries totalled US$38.672 billion from April 2007 to March 2015.
  • The ASEAN-India Free Trade Area was completed on July 1, 2015, when the ASEAN-India Agreements on Trade in Services and Investments went into effect.


  • In the face of increasing traditional and non-traditional problems, politico-security cooperation is a critical and emerging pillar of our relationship.
  • The landscape of common security challenges to our countries is defined by rising terror export, expanding radicalisation through hate ideology, and the growth of extreme violence.
  • Our collaboration with ASEAN aims to develop a coordinated, cooperative response and share it on multiple grounds.
  • ASEAN has worked tirelessly for 50 years as a regional body founded on consensus to help secure peace, growth, and prosperity in the region.
  • As a result, India prioritises ASEAN in its Indo-Pacific vision of regional security and growth for all.
  • The ASEAN Regional Venue is the principal forum for ASEAN security dialogue (ARF). Since 1996, India has attended this forum’s yearly sessions and has actively engaged in its varied activities.
  • The ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) is ASEAN’s highest level of defence consultation and cooperation.
  • The ADMM+ brings together Defence Ministers from the ten ASEAN countries, as well as Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States of America.


  • The annual Track 1.5 event, the Delhi Dialogue, is held in India to discuss political, security, and economic problems between ASEAN and India. India has hosted 10 editions of its flagship Conference since 2009. The MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) sponsored the 10th edition of the Delhi Dialogue in New Delhi on July 19-20, 2018, on the topic “Strengthening India-ASEAN Maritime Advantage.”


  • ASEAN brings countries with vastly different economies and political systems together. According to 2019 World Bank data, Singapore has the greatest GDP per capita among the group’s members, at more than $65,000, while Myanmar has the lowest, at roughly $1,400. Democracies, authoritarian governments, and hybrid regimes are among the members’ political systems.
  • The region’s demographics vary as well, with different religious and ethnic groups represented. Archipelagos and continental landmasses with low plains and rugged hills make up ASEAN’s geography.
  • Given the diversity among its members, the bloc is split on how to confront several issues, including China’s claims in the South China Sea, human rights violations, such as ethnic cleansing of Myanmar’s Rohingya minority, and political persecution in member states like Cambodia.
  • And this is why ASEAN plays a very keen role in India’s development as a sovereign nation and a political identity which has the calibre to be well recognised.

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