Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (Source: livemint.com)
Vientiane (VNA) – The 13th ASEAN-India Economic Ministers Consultation Meeting took place in Vientiane, Laos, on August 6, with ministers agreeing to push the implementation of the two sides’ agreements on investment, trade and services towards lifting ASEAN-India ties to a strategic partnership.

Addressing the event, which was part of the 48th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting and related events, Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman praised the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community late last year, saying that this will boost the bloc’s connectivity and cooperation, make it a dynamic and highly competitive region by 2025.

Participants hailed the robust bilateral trade exchange in 2015, reaching 58.7 billion USD, accounting for 2.6 percent of ASEAN’s total trade value and making India the bloc’s sixth largest trade partner. 

India is also the eighth largest investor in ASEAN, with total investment of 1.3 billion USD. 
They welcomed constructive discussions to accelerate the review of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods (AITIG) Agreement in line with the schedule reached during the 12th ASEAN-India Economic Ministers Consultation Meeting in Kuala Lumpur in August last year. 

The review of the agreement will help facilitate trade exchange between the two sides towards the target of 100 billion USD in bilateral trade value as set by ASEAN and Indian leaders in 2012, the ministers affirmed. 

The participants hailed the recent activities of the ASEAN-India Business Council (AIBC), including its 4th session on the sidelines of the 48th AEM Meeting and related meetings. 

They expressed belief that the Council will continue promoting trade exchange between India and the bloc, thus intensifying the connectivity among the regional business communities. The Vietnamese delegation to the 13th ASEAN-India Economic Ministers Consultation Meeting was led by Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Cam Tu.-VNA