New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday invited the Asean countries to invest in key infrastructure projects like smart cities, roads, highways, railways and ports, and said enhancing connectivity with the 10-member bloc was a key strategic priority of the government.
Addressing the inaugural session of the Delhi Dialogue VII, a Track 1.5 forum where policy makers and think tanks from both sides exchange ideas, Sushma Swaraj said the Asean-India FTA on services and investment was expected to enter into force later this year.
“This will complete our Free Trade Area with Asean and bring greater economic integration between our countries,” she said. She said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “underscored the government’s resolve to move with a great sense of priority and speed to transform India’s hitherto ‘Look East Policy’ into an ‘Act East Policy’.
She said Asean-India trade and investment has been growing steadily and the bloc was India’s fourth largest trading partner. The annual trade stood at over $76 billion in 2013, having registered an average growth of 22 percent a year over the past decade.
She said inking of the FTA in goods in 2009 has given a spurt to bilateral trade. “However, we need to make a special effort to achieve our target of enhancing trade to $100 billion by 2015, and our aspiration to double it to $200 billion by 2022,” she said.