Leaders from 10 Southeast Asian countries arrive in New Delhi today, ahead of the 15th India-ASEAN Summit, which begins on Wednesday.
With India and ASEAN accounting for some 30% of the global population and a combined GDP of $5.1 trillion, economic collaboration is likely to top the agenda.
Despite signing a free trade agreement in 2010, economic relations between the two leave much to be desired. Bilateral trade stood at just $70 billion last year—worth a mere 2.6% of ASEAN’s total trade and a long way off the $200 billion target set for 2022. To remedy this, discussions will likely focus on infrastructure projects between India and Southeast Asia, such as the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway.
As China plans several of its own infrastructure projects with Southeast Asian countries, the summit could demonstrate the intensifying rivalry between India and China for regional influence. With investment, trade and particularly infrastructure likely to improve because of India-China competition, ASEAN countries stand to reap the benefits of the growing regional rivalry.
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Alex is a senior analyst in the Current Developments team with a primary focus on the Americas. He also serves as an editor on The Daily Brief.