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Economic Ministers of Global Powers speak against Protectionism

Amidst world-wide concern over growing protectionism hurting international trade, the Economic ministers of developed countries emphasized the importance of countries keeping their markets open and fair as well as improving transparency and predictability of the business environment.

The Sixth East Asia economic Ministers conference was chaired by Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing in Singapore on September second. It was attended by Economic Ministers from ten ASEAN Countries and their eight dialogue partners India, Australia, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand and the Russian Federation. Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu attended the meeting on behalf of India.

The Ministers welcomed the higher global economic growth forecast for 2018 and took note of the increasing   importance of trade and investment relations among the EAS economies. Acknowledging the potential for disruptions in the macro-economy that could affect overall market sentiments and global growth, the forum expressed the hope that the economic linkages among the EAS members will enable them to address these challenges.

The Ministers agreed to the importance of keeping markets open and fair as well as improving transparency and predictability of the business environment. The meeting recognized the importance of ongoing work to maximize the opportunities of, and address the challenges presented by, the digital economy and the rise of regional and global value chains, as part of their efforts to promote economic growth and integration in the region.

The Conference was followed by the 15th ASEAN Economic Ministers - India Consultation. It was co-chaired by Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry, Singapore, and Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce and Industry, India. The meeting attended by Economic Ministers from 10 ASEAN countries took stock of the current level of trade and economic engagement between India and ASEAN and reaffirmed the commitment to further strengthen ASEAN-India economic relations. ASEAN has emerged as the second largest trade partner of India in 2017-18 with bilateral trade valued at 81.33 billion US Dollars, comprising 10.58 per cent of India’s total trade with the world.

ASEAN Ministers also appreciated the outcomes of the ASEAN-India Business and Investment Meet and Expo held on 22–23 January 2018 in New Delhi, that was organised soon after the 31st ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit and its role in providing a platform for both government and industry leaders to exchange views and provide ideas and solutions towards sustaining the momentum of trade and investment in the region.

 It was also announced in the Singapore meeting that the next ASEAN-India Business Summit will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in November 2018 with the theme “Towards Building Strategic Partnership between ASEAN and India in the Era of the 4th IR and Digital Economy” which will be followed by the 4th India-ASEAN Dialogue Partner Expo and Summit scheduled for 21-23 February 2019, in New Delhi.

The ASEAN-India Business Council (AIBC) presented their recommendations to the forum to sustain the momentum of trade and investment in the region. Issues related to promoting connectivity, collaboration on Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) development, blue economy, healthcare, and tourism as well as women and youth economic empowerment were discussed.  The Ministers emphasized on the importance of promoting private sector activities and strengthening business-to-business relations, including through the AIBC, to further broaden and deepen ASEAN-India economic linkages.


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