29 Apr 2021
The Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs co-chaired the 23rd ASEAN-India Senior Officials’ Meeting via video conference to advance the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership in all dimensions, especially the efforts to respond and recover better from COVID-19.
On 28 April 2021, H.E. Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, co-chaired the 23rd ASEAN-India Senior Officials’ Meeting with H.E. Ms. Riva Ganguly Das, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs of India via video conference. The Meeting was attended by SOM Leaders and representatives from ASEAN Member States and Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Political Security Community.
The Meeting discussed the advancement of the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership in all dimensions, especially the efforts to respond and recover better from COVID-19. These include enhancing cooperation in the areas of vaccines and medicines, digital development, as well as mitigating the socio-economic impacts on people and the business sector. India also proposed the announcement of 2022 as “ASEAN-India Friendship Year” to celebrate milestone anniversaries, including the 30th anniversary of Dialogue Relations.
The Meeting also reaffirmed a strong commitment to multilateralism, regionalism and regional security. The Meeting underlined the importance of a multilateral trading system, trade and investment facilitation and the need to promote regional connectivity, particularly through the expedition of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway project and its extension to Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The Meeting also exchanged views on regional and international issues and agreed to promote a conducive environment for peace, stability and prosperity in the region by further strengthening cooperation in the key areas under the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-pacific (AOIP) and exploring cooperation in the areas under Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI).
The Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs led a discussion on “Sustainable Development and Closing the Development Gaps” in the context of challenges brought about by COVID-19. He suggested that ASEAN and India work together to promote “transformations” in 3 areas, namely (1) human security transformation through innovation for health and well-beings; (2) green transformation by proposing the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economy Model as an alternative approach for enhancing a balanced economic, social and environmental development; and (3) digital transformation which is essential for sustainable socio-economic recovery and would help narrow the development gaps in ASEAN in the post-pandemic era.
In preparation for the 23rd ASEAN-India Senior Officials’ Meeting, the Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs also held a Co-Chairs’ Meeting with Secretary Das on 27 April 2021 via video conference. Both sides took this opportunity to discuss cooperation under the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership, including ASEAN-India activities in 2021 and other important regional issues.