Asean-India ties: Less than optimal

Tremendous progress in the last few decades on building strong linkages but the potential for further growth and connections is immense.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan (fifth from right) with his Asean counterparts and India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar (centre) at the Special Asean-India Foreign Ministers' Meeting in New Delhi on June 16, 2022. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

The relationship between Asean and India is a very important one. It is a relationship between the 1.35 billion people of India and the 650 million people of Asean. It is a relationship between two vibrant economies and is relatively free of problems. There is, therefore, a high degree of comfort and trust in the relationship. However, the truth is that the relationship is far below its potential. Asean is underperforming in India and vice versa. The Asean-India relationship is a pale shadow of the Asean-China relationship.

Before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, Asean was growing at about 5.7 per cent per annum while India was growing at about 6.5 per cent per annum. The Indian economy is poised to grow by 9.5 per cent in 2021-22. Asean is the world's fifth largest economy and could become the fourth largest by 2030. India could be the world's third largest economy, after China and the United States, by 2050.

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