His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
During the 8th ASEAN-India Summit
[October 30, 2010; Hanoi, Vietnam]
[Please check against delivery]
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
My colleagues in ASEAN,
Good Morning. As our Indian friends would say, “Namaste,” as a way of greeting, and I do hope that I pronounced it correctly.
Allow me to welcome His Excellency Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Ha Noi for this important event, and also to thank the Government and peoples of Viet Nam for their generous hosting of our Meeting today.
India is already ASEAN’s seventh-largest trading partner, with total trade of over $39 billion last year. Let us work together to ensure that closer ASEAN-India trade links will yield greater opportunities for economic prosperity for all of our citizens. The Philippines therefore looks forward to solidly implemented ASEAN-India Trade In Goods Agreement which was signed last year.
This regional economic arrangement creates a market of over 1.8 billion people with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over US$2.8 trillion. This economic bloc, under a regime of predictable, free and equitable trade rules, opens up vast opportunities for our business people.
However, the ASEAN-India Trade In Goods Agreement is just one pillar to the full realization of our Comprehensive Economic Partnership. We also look forward to the conclusion of the ASEAN-India Trade in Services, and Investment Agreements, seeing how an open investment and services regime between our regions will complement the existing free trade in goods that we already have, leading further to increased business activities, employment and other economic opportunities. We encourage our respective economic officials to intensify their efforts to push the negotiations towards a successful conclusion.
The Philippines also lends its voice to the adoption of the new plan of action to implement the ASEAN-India partnership for peace, progress and shared prosperity, which lays out the cooperation activities between the ASEAN and India.
Moving forward in these initiatives is an important step towards defining a clear direction to where our regional cooperation is headed in the coming years. I am confident it will contribute to the 21st Century being the true Asian Century.