November 19, 2011
Bali, Indonesia

PM's statement at the 6th East Asia Summit Plenary Session

"I thank President Yudhoyono for his very warm hospitality and excellent arrangements made for this Summit meeting in Bali.

I would like to congratulate the United States of America and the Russian Federation on their formal entry into the East Asia Summit process this year. Their presence will enrich our discussions, and reflects the growing significance of East Asia in global affairs.

India endorses the draft Declaration of the Summit on the Principles for Mutually Beneficial Relations, and the Declaration on ASEAN Connectivity.

India fully subscribes to the view that the East Asia Summit process must be centred on the ASEAN, and ASEAN should be its driving force. We must move at a pace and in the direction with which the ASEAN countries are comfortable, and which responds to their concerns and priorities.

The East Asia Summit is the forum for building an open, inclusive and transparent architecture of regional cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. In a relatively short period it has taken several initiatives to promote trade, economic integration and connectivity. It has facilitated collective responses to challenges such as natural disasters, pandemics, climate change and energy security.

The global economic situation is showing several signs of stress. However, the emerging market countries in Asia are growing well and are in fact contributing to the recovery of the world economy.

I am happy to say that India is a part of this process. We have grown at an average of 8.4 percent in the past five years. Like other countries we too have slowed down in 2011, but we still expect to grow around 7.5 percent. However, none of us can prosper in isolation to the rest of the world. The most serious fault line at present is what is happening in Eurozone.

We all have a stake in an early resolution of the Eurozone crisis and I hope we can send a message of solidarity to Europe.

Against the global economic background that we are in, it is all the more important that we give full play to flows of trade, investment, services and ideas among ourselves. Howsoever complex the task, we should persevere with the project of East Asian economic integration and in our efforts towards a Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia or CEPEA. India is working actively to integrate with this region. We are in the process of finalising a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with ASEAN.

We have concluded similar agreements with the Republic of Korea, Malaysia and Japan. An agreement is already in place with Singapore. We have commenced negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand.

Several useful reports and studies by the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia have been produced and contain proposals which can be taken forward. These include a Comprehensive Asian Development Plan to enhance connectivity in the region.

The channelling of investible surpluses from Asia and the rest of the world into some of these projects will have a direct impact on the real economy of the region and on job creation, and will also stimulate global growth.

Rapid economic growth is the most enduring strategy to overcome the global economic slowdown. We should keep our focus on the development agenda, make sure our growth is environmentally sustainable, find new and renewable technologies to fuel our growth and invest in education and skill development. The East Asia Summit is ideally equipped to pursue such an agenda.

I wish to inform this Summit that following the adoption of a Statement on the establishment of the Nalanda University in India by the East Asia Summit in Thailand in 2009 work on the University in progress.

Political and security issues have increasingly become a part of the discourse in the region, whether in the ASEAN Regional Forum or the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus Eight. We believe that while respecting differences and ensuring synergy between different forums, the East Asia Summit provides an opportunity to discuss all issues. It can contribute to enhancing mutual understanding and promoting peace, stability and security.

There are common challenges we face that cut across national boundaries such as terrorism, prevention and response to natural disasters, piracy, protecting sea lanes of communication and drug trafficking. We welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues in the East Asia Summit.

India would be happy to share its expertise in the areas of disaster management and maritime security. Specifically, we propose to host next year a EAS Workshop on disaster management and relief in the case of an occurrence of an earthquake. We are already working with several countries in combating piracy.

The East Asia Summit process is still work in progress but I believe we are on the right track. India is committed to the success of this process. The resurgence of Asia is dependent on the evolution of a cooperative architecture in which all countries are equal participants. We will work with all other countries towards this end.

I thank you."