KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Asean and India should accelerate the review of the Asean-India Trade In Goods Agreement to make it more user-friendly and simple for businesses, says Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (pic).
The Prime Minister said this is vital to allow Asean and India to further harness the full potential of economic relations in the pursuit of regional recovery, resilience and integration.
Speaking during his intervention at the 18th Asean-India Summit held virtually on Thursday (Oct 28), Ismail Sabri said India remained an important trading partner for Asean.
Unfortunately, the pandemic had resulted in a decline of 14.9 per cent in two-way trade last year.
"Malaysia is encouraged by the progress in Asean-India relations since 1992. Regrettably, the Covid-19 pandemic has set back some of the progress achieved.
"Hence, it is incumbent upon us to enhance cooperation to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and move towards post-pandemic recovery,” he said.
Ismail Sabri added that equally important is cooperation in digital transformation and digital economy as this is increasingly the new norm of doing business.
"Priority should be given to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in the region. Asean and India should also improve connectivity to ensure supply chains remain unrestricted,” he said.
The Prime Minister noted that the Indian pharmaceutical industry has played a remarkable role in delivering cost-effective and high-quality generic drugs globally, including since the onset of the pandemic.
As such he urged Asean and India to explore strategic collaboration in areas such as research and development in diagnostic and treatment of Covid-19, manufacturing and distribution of vaccine as well as vaccine security and self-reliance.
"This would contribute to regional efforts to overcome the current pandemic and prepare for future health emergencies,” he said.
He added Malaysia welcomes Asean and India cooperation in implementing common initiatives under the Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative through Asean-led mechanisms.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi also participated in the 18th Asean-India Summit.
The Asean-India Summit was held at the sidelines of the three-day 38th and 39th Asean Summits and Related Summits, which began on Tuesday (Oct 26) under the chairmanship of Brunei.- Bernama