ASEAN and India upgraded its partnership to a strategic level in 2012

Resonating India’s renewed significance in Indo-Pacific, Singapore on Tuesday hoped to facilitate a deeper partnership between the Southeast Asian bloc and New Delhi.

Singapore Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Tan See Leng called for deeper integration with the region to enable greater access to significant opportunities.

“Looking to the future, Singapore as a country coordinator of the ASEAN-India dialogue relations, hopes to facilitate a deeper partnership between ASEAN and India. This would be to everyone's benefit as deeper integration with the region would enable greater access to significant opportunities,” said Tan, congratulating India on its 72nd Republic Day, celebrations for which were held virtually by the Indian High Commissioner to Singapore, P Kumaran.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region, and India and several other countries including the US, China, Japan and Australia are its dialogue partners. ASEAN and India upgraded its partnership to a strategic level in 2012.

India would always be a valued partner and a friend to Singapore, Tan said. "We look forward to strengthening this relationship in the years to come," he said, recalling India's relationship with the city-state since its independence in 1965.

Recounting the striding forward of Singapore-India bilateral relations, Minister Leng highlighted the strong presence of Indian companies in the city-state.

"Our partnership is especially strong on the economic front. We will work with the Indian government to establish skill centres in different parts of India to expand on this area of cooperation. Indian companies in Singapore have played their parts through partnerships with us and the region. Similarly, Singapore companies have a vested interest in the bright potential and promise of India,” he said.

In his address at the virtual Republic Day celebration, the High Commissioner Kumaran noted Singapore's interests in various economic development fields, with over 440 companies having registered in India and total investments of US $ 106 billion.

Singapore’s statement follows India’s growing footprint in the Indo-Pacific region. It comes at a time when the ASEAN bloc looks for a convergence between ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific and India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative. ASEAN also looks forward to implementing the ASEAN-India Plan of Action for 2021-2025.

The 17th ASEAN-India Summit was held in November when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had underlined the centrality of ASEAN in India's Act East Policy, which is a key pillar of India’s foreign policy. He had noted that a cohesive, responsive and prosperous ASEAN is central to India's Indo-Pacific Vision and contributes to Security And Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).

Prime Minister Modi then had also underscored the importance of strengthening convergence between India's Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative and ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific to ensure a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region. He invited the ASEAN countries to take the lead on various pillars of our Oceans Initiative.

Singapore as a country-coordinator of ASEAN-India dialogue relations also stressed on the recovery from Covid-19 and India’s role as a key player in the global pharmaceutical industry.

"As our countries move towards the next stage of recovery from COVID-19, we look forward to working with India which is a key player in the global pharmaceutical supply chain," the Singapore Minister said, noting the hard work put in by the two countries in keeping the supply chains open especially for essential goods such as health supplies and food.

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