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ASEAN plus India, China is future of Asia : Nath

The Hindu, India

ASEAN plus India, China is future of Asia : Nath

15 June 2006

Tokyo, June 15. (PTI) : The rising influence of India and China need not worry ASEAN countries and the regional grouping should look at joining hands with the two fastest growing economies of Asia, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said today.

ASEAN does not face a threat or a strategic challenge vis-a-vis India and China. The issue at hand is not ASEAN versus Chindia (China and India) but ASEAN plus Chindia," he said at the East Asia Summit of the World Economic Forum here.

The ASEAN region along with China and India would become a global powerhouse to be reckoned with, he said, adding given the strengths of ASEAN and the growing muscle of India and China, the scope for constructive cooperation was immense.

This was logical in view of their complementarities, since ASEAN had an abundance of natural resources as also significant technological skills, which provided a natural base for growth of synergies and integration between ASEAN, China and India in both trade and in vestment, Nath said.

"We strongly believe the future of Asia lies in ASEAN plus Chindia...Competing for the world’s investment resources as a regional powerhouse will widen and deepen the advantages of globalisation," he said.

Pointing out that a pragmatic search for reciprocal self-interest had been the fulcrum of India s ’Look East’ policy, he said : "We have already concluded a Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreement with Singapore and are close to finalising a similar agreement with ASEAN and Thailand."

Earlier, speaking at the plenary session of East Asia Summit, Nath said the growth momentum in India would continue.

"I am convinced that the demographic trends that are emerging will lead to changes in economic policies, and hasten the pace of economic reforms," he said.