Bangkok Current Affairs - 2019

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7th RCEP Ministerial Meeting commence in Bangkok from 8-10 September

The 7th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) ministerial meeting of 10 members of ASEAN countries and their six FTA (free trade agreement) partners is being held in Bangkok, Thailand from 8-10 September 2019.

Key Highlights of Meet

Participants: Along with 7th RCEP Ministerial Meeting 7th East Asia Economic Ministers Summit and 16th ASEAN India Economic Ministers (AEM) meeting are also being held in Bangkok from 8-10 September 2019, which will be attended by Economic Ministers and senior leaders of 10 ASEAN member countries and 8 East Asia Summit (EAS) countries. EAS meeting will discuss regional and global economic developments and ASEAN’s outlook on Indo-Pacific regions.

Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Railways, Piyush Goyal is representing India at the meet. He will also hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Russia, Japan, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand.

Discussion and Deliberations:

Participants emphasized that the ongoing global uncertainties have added to urgency to conclude mega free trade agreement (FTA) between these nations.

As per the joint statement issued after the meeting, which reviewed RCEP negotiations on 8 September (in Bangkok), the 16 negotiating partners agreed that they should not lose long-term vision of deepening and expanding value chains in RCEP.

Matters related to promotion of trade and investment among partner countries will be discussed in India ASEAN AEM and EAS-EMM meetings.

India-ASEAN

India’s engagement with ASEAN is at core of ‘Act East’ policy of India. ASEAN is the gateway to Indian Ocean region (IOR) and as close partners, there is convergence of views in India’s and ASEAN outlook in region.

Trade and investment relations: India and ASEAN’s trade relation continue to grow as India’s bilateral trade jumped threefold from $21 billion in 2005-06 to $96.7 billion in 2018-19.  Also, in 2018-19 ASEAN countries together emerged as largest trading partner of India (followed by USA), with a share of 11.47% in India’s overall trade on the other hand India was ASEAN’s 6th largest trading partner in 2018.

Investment flows between Indian and ASEAN are also substantial.  In between April 2018 to March 2019 the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows into India from ASEAN was about $16.41 billion (which is about 36.98 % of total FDI flow into India) and FDI inflows from India to ASEAN in 20018 amounted to $1.7 billion, placing India as ASEAN’s 6th largest source of FDI.

About Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

It is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between 10 member states of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its 6 free-trade agreement (FTA) partners- India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. ASEAN members countries are Cambodia, Brunei, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Myanmar.

RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at ASEAN Summit held in Cambodia.

Indian Navy Warships Arrive in Laem Chabang, Thailand for Port Visit

As part of Indian Navy’s Overseas Deployment to South East Asia and Western Pacific, two Indian Navy warships, INS Sahyadri and INS Kiltan arrived at Laem Chabang, Bangkok for a port call from 31 August to 3 September 2019. The port call is a demonstration of India’s warm ties with Thailand.

Key Highlights

During the port call, there would be professional interactions between personnel of both navies(Indian Navy and Royal Thai Navy), official calls and interaction with dignitaries of Royal Thai Navy.

In addition to professional meet, social engagements, visits by local populace and various sports events are also planned during the visit.

On completion of visit, Indian Navy and Royal Thai Navy ships would be undertaking a Passage Exercise at sea. This would further build on levels of interoperability between navies to ensure peaceful and secure seas for all.

Ships are scheduled to depart Laem Chabang on September 3.

About INS Sahyadri & INS Kiltan

INS Sahyadri (F49): is a Shivalik-class multi-role Guided Missile Stealth Frigate

INS Kiltan (P30): is a Kamorta-class Anti-Submarine Warfare Corvette

Both are equipped with a versatile array of weapons and sensors and can carry multi-role helicopters. These two ships are latest, indigenously designed and built warships which represent ‘coming of age’ of India’s warship building capabilities.

They are part of Indian Navy’s Eastern Fleet under the Operational Command of Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (CIC), Eastern Naval Command, based at Visakhapatnam.