US India Global Review 2018

and businessmen get to meet, learn and deepen ties. To mark this Silver Jubilee of ASEAN-India relations, both sides have held many commemorative activities. The recent Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Singapore recognised the contributions of the Indian diaspora. Today’s ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit marks the culmina¬tion of these celebrations. It is an honour for all the ASEAN Leaders to be in New Delhi for this occasion. ASEAN Leaders are also deeply honoured to be invited as Chief Guests at tomorrow’s 69th Republic Day Parade. Major global trends are reshap- ing the strategic outlook, present- ing both challenges and opportu- nities. The strategic balance is shifting. Demographic, cultural and political changes are underway in many parts of the world. The con- sensus on globalisation and free trade is fraying, but the Asian story continues to be a positive one. We need to push on with economic integration. We must also be resolute in dealing with emerging transboundary chal- lenges, including terrorism, cyber- crime and climate change. This geopolitical uncertainty gives new impetus to ASEAN’s cooperation with key partners like India. ASEAN and India share common interests in peace and security in the region, and an open, balanced and inclusive regional architecture. India is located strategically along major sea-lanes from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. These sea lanes are also vital trade routes for many ASEAN Member States. Both sides share an interest in preserv- ing these vital maritime conduits of trade. ASEAN and India’s combined population of 1.8 billion represents one quarter of the world’s popula- tion. Our combined GDP exceeds US$4.5 trillion. By 2025, India’s consumer market is expected to become the fifth largest in the world, while in Southeast Asia middle-class house-holds will dou- ble to 163 million. Both regions are also experiencing a demo- graphic dividend – 60% of ASEAN’s population is below 35 years old, while India is projected to be the world’s youngest country with an average age of 29 by 2020. ASEAN and India also have fast-growing internet user bases, which will help us to grow the digi- tal economy. Against this back- drop, we still have much scope to grow our ties – India accounted for only 2.6% of ASEAN’s external trade in 2016. May I suggest three promising areas of mutually beneficial col- laboration. First, ASEAN and India should redouble efforts to promote trade and investment. We need to keep existing pathways up to date and relevant, including the AIFTA. We should work together to conclude a high quality Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), surpassing the existing AIFTA. This would cre- ate an integrated Asian market comprising nearly half the world’s population and a third of the world’s GDP. Stream¬lining rules and regulations will stimulate investments in both directions, complement India’s ‘Act East’ poli- cy and facilitate ‘Make in India’ exports to the region. Second, our peoples will benefit greatly from greater land, air and maritime connectivity. We appreci- ate India’s efforts to improve land connectivity, including the exten- sion of the trilateral India- Myanmar-Thailand Highway, and India’s US$1 billion line of credit to promote infrastructure connec- tivity with ASEAN. We look for- ward to working closely with India to boost our physical connectivity, including by expeditiously con- cluding the ASEAN-India Air Transport Agreement. This will enhance people-to-people flows across the region and help both Indian and ASEAN carriers to tap new and emerging markets, espe- cially for business, investment and tourism. Digital connectivity is another important area of cooperation, and can shape people-to-people connections for the future. India’s Aadhaar system creates many new opportunities, for instance, to harmonise our Fintech platforms or connect e-payment systems. Finally, we continue to look for new synergies. One objective of Singapore’s Chairmanship is to develop an ASEAN Smart Cities Network, and here Singapore and India are natural partners. India is rapidly urbanising and has set itself a goal of establishing 100 Smart Cities. Singapore, an urbanised city-state, is ready to partner India on this journey and help develop urban solutions based on our own experience. Andhra Pradesh’s new capital city of Amaravati is one example. As ASEAN Chair, Singapore is committed to deepening ASEAN- India ties. If both sides use our historical and cultural links to tack- le today’s challenges and build bridges for the future, our youth and next generation stand to gain the most. Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore | 11 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW APRIL-JUNE 2018