New Delhi: India is working towards increasing its trade and investments in the South East Asian region, especially in the hydrocarbon sector, oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a conference on India-Asean strategic partnership and the Act East policy, the minister said that India was in talks with Indonesia for partnering in its oil refining industry and liquified natural gas (LNG) industries. The move, the minister said, was part of New Delhi’s efforts to step up ties with the Asean region, a rich source of crude oil and natural gas for India.
Pradhan said state-owned oil marketing firms were in the process of enhancing their retailing business in the region, adding that India had recently dispatched its first shipment of diesel to Myanmar.
Asean, India’s fourth largest trading partner, accounts for more than 10% of the country’s total trade. Foreign direct investment flows into India from this block between April 2007 and March 2015 touched $32 billion, the minister said.
Jitendra Singh, minister of state for development of north eastern region, who was also present at the event, said the government was working on a single window clearance system for trade between the North-East and Asean nations.
New Delhi will be hosting all the 10 Asean leaders for a commemorative summit marking 25 years of ties with the grouping in January. The leaders will also be chief guests at India’s Republic Day celebrations on 26 January. India is looking to play a more active role in the Indo-Pacific region and will be pushing for deeper strategic cooperation with Asean to balance the China-dominated power dynamics in the region, said two people familiar with the development on condition of anonymity.
Key issues including effectively tackling the threat of terrorism, boosting maritime security cooperation and enhancing connectivity will be the other areas of deliberations at the forthcoming summit in January.