PM heads East this Sunday to bolster economic ties

October 22nd, 2010 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Oct 22 (IANS) With the Indian economy getting “increasingly integrated” with its partners in East Asia, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh heads eastwards this weekend for a three-nation tour that will take him to Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam.

“The Indian economy is getting increasingly integrated with those its East Asian partners. PM’s three nation Asian tour is organically defined by this process,” Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao Rao told reporters here Friday, ahead of the week-long visit beginning Sunday.

With strengthening economic ties underpinning the weeklong trip, India is expected to announce the conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Japan, the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperaton Agreement (CECA) with Malaysia and deliberate on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia (CEPEA) at the 16-nation East Asia summit in Vietnam.

The three-day visit to Tokyo (Oct 24-26) will be followed by a three-day trip to Kuala Lumpur (Oct 26-28). The third and final leg will take him to Hanoi for the 8th India-Asean summit and the 5th East Asia summit.

In Tokyo for his annual summit, Manmohan Singh will hold extensive discussions with his counterpart Naoto Kan on a host of bilateral, regional and global issues. However, the actual signing of the CEPA will have to wait, the foreign secretary said, for the internal processes that Japan has to go through and the “legal scrubbing of the documents”.

“That is the reality and we have to deal with realities in diplomacies,” Rao said, describing CEPA as a “win win proposition for both countries”.

The civil nuclear deal is also still on its way. “We have had two rounds of discussion on the peaceful use of nuclear energy,” the foreign secretary stated, adding that there was “political resolve” in both countries to take these discussions forward.

The Japanese involvement in major infrastructure development projects in India, like the dedicated freight corridor and the Delhi-Mumbai Industral corridor, will also be discussed by the two prime ministers.

In Malaysia, India’s second largest trading partner in the ASEAN region, the stress will also be on the 2.1 million Indian origin people and 150,000 skilled and semi-skilled Indian workers. Manmohan Singh will also pay a visit to Little India and attend an Indian community reception.

The third leg in Hanoi will see the prime minister hold several bilaeral meetings with Asean and EAS leaders, including the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao.

“There is enough space for India and China to grow together,” Rao said, when asked whether she envisaged competition between India and China in light of the growing Chinese influence in Asia.

The prime minister will brief EAS leaders on the Nalanda University Project, which is now ready to take-off after the acquisition of land and passage of the Nalanda University bill in parliament, the foreign secretary said.
Pegged as a symbol of global cooperation in education, the Nalanda University, proposed to be set up in Bihar near the site where an ancient university flourished centuries ago, will have schools on Buddhist studies, philosophy and comparative literature, historical studies and ecology and environmental studies.

India, she said, had enunciated its Look East policy in 1992. “Our strategy was to qualitatively enhance synergies and cvilisational linkages with the dynamic East and Souteast Asian region. Over these past 18 years, we have made visible progress in attaining these goals.”

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