Pranab Mukherjee urges greater cooperation among Asian countries

November 14th, 2007 - 10:36 am ICT by admin  

He said there was no reason why the experience of a vibrant trade, economic and cultural exchange between Asian countries in the past could not be replicated if they worked together towards achieving that goal.

“The dynamics of globalisation and the growing economic potential of Asia justify the resurrection of that vision of Pan-Asian regionalism. Driven by this vision, India has been striving to strengthen relations with its Asian partners,” Mukherjee said at a conference here.

“We believe that such cooperation is economically logical and will help make this century the century of Asia,” he added.

India’s “Look East” policy, aims to expand and strengthen strategic and economic relationship with south-east Asia and the Far East countries.

The idea was first mooted by former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao in the 1990s, with India exploring new markets and partners after the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War.

East Asia as a region is today India’s largest trade partner, ahead of the European Union and also ahead of the US, with the two-way trade of India with East Asian Countries crossing 80 billion dollars.

Mukherjee said an important development in the direction of building cooperative architecture in Asia is the East Asia Summit, which will be held in Singapore in December.

“This summit could provide an important platform for initiating the process of creation of an East Asian Community. Such a community could be an important step in the direction of creation of the ‘arc of advantage and prosperity’ that would act as an anchor of stability and development for Asia and beyond,” he said.

In 2004, two-way trade between ASEAN and India amounted to about 17.6 billion dollars, with the balance in favour of ASEAN exports, according to Malaysian figures. India accounted for just 1.8 percent of ASEAN’s total global trade.

In 2005-06, the two-way trade crossed 21 billion dollars. There has been a ten-fold increase over a period of 15 years.

Meanwhile, Mukherjee met his Singaporean counterpart George Yeo.

Yeo is on a two-day visit to India to discuss bilateral relations between the countries and hold parleys on the situation in Myanmar. (ANI)

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