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09 January 2018, 02:14 | Terri Saunders
Piyush Gupta Chief Executive Officer and Director DBS Group Singapore moderating the discussion at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Singapore
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday met with the delegations of Indian diaspora from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries in Singapore.
Addressing the Indian diaspora at the ASEAN-India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here, Swaraj reaffirmed India's commitment to ASEAN.
"Today, 16 Indian cities are connected to Singapore, a trilateral highway project from India to Thailand is making progress, and we plan to extend this further to connect India with other ASEAN countries".
Iswaran said that India and ASEAN nations have identified innovation as a priority, and they should study how to "build connectivity" so start-ups have access to markets in both regions.
With the theme of "Ancient Route, New Journey", Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) marked the contribution of overseas Indian community in its two-day event which ended yesterday followed by a cultural evening.
ASEAN is India's 4th largest trading partner, accounting for 10.2 per cent of Indias total trade.
India is ASEAN's 7th largest trading partner.
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His Indian counterpart, Ms Sushma Swaraj, also outlined her vision for the region, saying: "For India, Asean leadership and centrality is essential to peace and prosperity for a rapidly changing Indo-Pacific region".
Swaraj further highlighted the potential and promises in the defining partnership between India and South-East Asia.
"Against this backdrop, we are starting from a modest base", said Teo, noting that ASEAN-India trade accounted for only 2.6 per cent of the bloc's external trade in 2016.
He called for ASEAN and India to press on with economic integration, pledging that Singapore, as ASEAN chair, will do what it can to secure the support of India and all other Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership countries to advance negotiations on the pact.
"Our diaspora provides a platform for a stronger relationship between India and ASEAN countries", she said.
Swaraj also held talks with ASEAN Secretary General Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi as India steps up efforts to strengthen engagements with the countries of the region under its "Act East" policy.
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