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India will seek deeper economic ties with ASEAN

*India will seek deeper economic ties with ASEAN*

Oxford Analytica

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

For Delhi, closer links with South-east Asia help to develop India’s north-east and counter Beijing’s regional influence

Source: Thomson Reuters Datastream, Oxford Analytica

Outlook

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi since 2014 has spoken of transitioning from a ‘Look East’ to an ‘Act East’ policy, pledging greater engagement with South-east Asia.

Delhi’s initiative is about palliating separatist feeling in India’s restive north-east and pushing back on China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Enhanced physical connectivity with Myanmar and Thailand should boost economic prospects in the north-east. It may also help India reduce dependence on the strategically sensitive Siliguri Corridor and respond to Chinese infrastructural investments in South-east Asia.

India and ASEAN will seek to boost bilateral trade, but protectionist demands may keep India out of RCEP.

Impacts

India will push to extend the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway into Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.Delhi and Naypyidaw will step up talks over an India-Myanmar oil pipeline.India’s credit line of 1 billion dollars will help develop further physical and digital connectivity with ASEAN.The many exempted items in India-ASEAN trade suggest a lack of economic complementarity.India not signing up to RCEP would disappoint ASEAN members more than China

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