Events & Conferences
In recent years, India has been actively engaged in deepening and widening its economic engagements
Bilateral Feasibility Studies for Deeper Integration through Free Trade Agreements and Comprehensive
|New Asia Forum|
|Research Studies on Relevance and Potential of Pan-Asian Economic Cooperation|
|Research Programme on South Asian Economic Integration|
|South Asia Development and Cooperation Report 2004|
|Monetary Cooperation in South Asia|
|Towards A Free Trade Area in South Asia|
|Regional Economic Integration in South Asia: Measurement of Gains and the Way Forward|
|Regional Cooperation for Food Security and Poverty Alleviation in South Asia|
|Relevance of Investment in India-Sri Lanka Comprehensive Economic Partnership|
|Fostering ASEAN-India Economic Partnership|
|ASEAN-India Vision 2020: Working Together for a Shared Prosperity|
|India-ASEAN Eminent Persons Lecture Series|
|India-ASEAN Partnership: Towards Operational Steps|
|Exploring Mekong-Ganga Partnership|
|Rules of Origin Issues in India’s Economic Partnership Agreements with ASEAN and Other Countries|
|Future Directions of BIMSTEC: Towards A Bay of Bengal Economic Community (BoBEC)|
|Fostering India-China Economic Relations|
|Studies on India-China Cooperation|
|India-China Policy Dialogue|
|Economic Cooperation with Central Asian Republics|
RIS has been engaged since 2001 in a major research programme developing a proposal and the way forward of an Asian Economic Community that is broader than the ongoing subregional and bilateral approaches for regional economic integration in Southeast and South Asia and would enable the region to exploit full potential of synergies. The proposed Asian Economic Community could be built in a phased manner with Japan, ASEAN China, Korea (JACIK) providing the initial core. This research programme is supported by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF), Tokyo and is conducted in collaboration with major policy think-tanks in Asia. In the first phase of the programme conducted during 2001/03, a major international conference on “Building a New Asia: Towards an Asian Economic Community” was organized by RIS in New Delhi on March 10-11, 2003 in collaboration with the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research, and Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta. The New Delhi Conference had found a compelling case for the proposed Asian Economic Community and mandated RIS to keep active the network of think-tanks evolved at the conference and continue the work to promote the concept. In the Second Phase of the Programme (2003/06), a number of activities have been undertaken as mandated by the New Delhi Conference. This included the launch of a network of policy think-tanks, a quarterly journal New Asia Monitor, a volume based on the presentations of 2003 conference, viz. Towards an Asian Economic Community: Vision of a New Asia and organization of a High level Conference on Asian Economic Integration: Vision of A New Asia in Tokyo in November 2004. Besides preparation of a number of studies on specific aspects of cooperation. As part of this details of the series of the next conferences (2005) are also being finalised. See RIS Diary January 2005 and April 2005.
RIS has set up the New Asia Forum as a dedicated network of think-tanks in Asia devoted to assist the process of regional integration and thus help in building a New Asia with ideas. The New Asia Monitor, a quarterly journal of the Forum, was launched in March 2004 to disseminate the news, viewpoints and analysis on the economic outlook and developments in the region, among the policy circles and think-tanks to promote the cause of regional economic integration. New Asia Monitor has been received well. The Forum has also set up a dedicated website www.newasiaforum.org as the melting pot for all the relevant information and resources on the subject. This site is being linked up with those of the think-tanks connected with the Forum.
Studies have also been launched in areas of simulation of gains from integration, monetary and financial cooperation, energy security, infrastructure development, cooperation in information technology and biotechnology, among other areas.
Building on the work done in the First Phase of the programme, RIS research explores the relative merits of alternative proposals floated for evolving a pan-Asian framework for regional economic integration to find a way forward. The work includes examination of the welfare gains arising from alternative approaches such as the East Asian Economic Community (EAEC) proposal developed by the East Asia Vision Group essentially combining ASEAN+3 (Japan, China and Korea) countries vis-à-vis the JACIK (Japan, ASEAN, China, India and Korea) roadmap developed by RIS as a initial building block of a broader Asian Economic Community. The welfare gains are computed within a computable general equilibrium (CGE) framework. This analysis is complemented by analysis exploring the complementarities and intensity of linkages between India and East Asia. The study also identifies the broad areas of regional economic cooperation, elements of such cooperation and the sequencing. An early version of the study was presented at the High-level Conference on Economic Cooperation organized by the Asian Development Bank in Manila on 1-2 July 2004. As revised version was presented at the Tokyo conference in November 2004.
As a part of the ongoing work on monetary and financial cooperation in Asia, a proposal of Reserve Bank of Asia (RBA) as an institutional infrastructure has been developed (PB #3). It has been shown that an institutional infrastructure like RBA could enable the region to harness its substantial foreign exchange reserves for its development besides providing a basis of exchange rate stability. Another study on the subject examined relevance of India’s monetary integration with East Asia. The analysis shows that significant complementarities in trade exist among these countries, most of them experience similar shocks and labour mobility is already present. These results point to the fact that the cost of adopting a single currency may be minimal, while huge benefits could accrue from enhanced trade. The study, issued as an RIS Discussion Paper (#64), also recognizes the importance of yen for the success of the monetary union in Asia.
Energy consumption of developing Asian economies like India, China, South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand are increasing rapidly. To meet this increasing demand for energy, these emerging economies will have to increase and diversify their domestic supplies and sources of energy—both conventional as well as non-conventional. In this regard, regional cooperation can play an important role. For instance, it could cover cooperation in exploration in the new economies of Central Asian countries, besides some BIMSTEC and ASEAN countries that have abundant oil and natural gas and renewable energy resources. Cooperation among India, China, Japan and Korea could also cover management of strategic oil reserves, development of a natural gas market in Asia and improvement of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Besides exploring the role for regional cooperation in energy security in Asia, the RIS study explores into India’s energy cooperation possibilities with other countries. As part of this study, a Discussion Paper (#69 on Issues Related to India’s Energy Trading with Central Asian Countries) was also brought out by RIS. The paper examines the potential and challenges that India-Central Asia cooperation in energy.
Benefits of geographical proximity in Asia are often lost due to inadequate transport linkages. Against that backdrop, studies on development of transport connectivity have been undertaken in conjunction with RIS work on various approaches to regional cooperation in Asia. In the past year the issue of transport infrastructure has been studied in South Asia (as reported in South Asia Development and Cooperation Report 2004). Subsequently transport infrastructure and connectivity was examined in the context of BIMSTEC as reflected in RIS report for BIMSTEC Summit and also issued as a Discussion Paper. Infrastructure development’s importance is being studied in the context of the ongoing programme on Asian Economic Community. A paper has been completed on the importance of transport connectivity for regional economic integration which was presented at an ADB conference in July 2004 (RIS Discussion Paper #77). Work is currently on for estimating the financing requirements for infrastructure development in Asia.
Information Technology offers some unique opportunities for regional cooperation in Asia for mutual benefit. Unlike earlier core technologies, in case of IT, Asia holds the commanding heights. With East Asian countries like Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and China known for their manufacturing capabilities in the wide range of ICT goods, and India has emerged as IT software and service superpower. RIS is exploring into the potential and prospects of regional cooperation in this key technology for Asian development. A paper that has been already completed examines India-ASEAN cooperation in IT during the recent past and highlights the prospects for the future. It has been argued that India-ASEAN cooperation could be instrumental in addressing the ASEAN divide - the development gap between old and new ASEAN countries. This paper was presented at the ASEAN-India Forum held in Singapore in February 2004 and has been issued as a Discussion Paper. Another paper has explored into the lessons that new members of ASEAN can take from Indian experiences in building capability in IT industry. This has also been issued as a Discussion Paper. Ongoing work covers a series of papers on specific CLMV countries in building production capabilities especially in the IT industry.
This is the second phase of the RIS work programme on biotechnology and Asian development launched in 2001 with support from the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. As part of this programme RIS initiated studies on strategies of various national governments in Asia in the area of biotechnology. This programme also facilitated the publication of Asian Biotechnology and Development Review (ABDR) which now appears thrice a year. This programme has also supported developing an informal network of policy makers, researchers and practitioners working on different aspects of biotechnology. In this context RIS has started a series of Asia level policy dialogues organized every two years called Conferences on Biotechnology for Asian Development to facilitate exchange of experiences within the region. The second conference was organized by RIS in April 2004 in collaboration with CII, IUCN with the support of DBT and UNESCO. The April conference further strengthened the informal network. RIS is in touch with these institutions for follow up of the recommendations. IUCN Regional Office has entered into a MoU with RIS for institutional collaboration on these issues. The Third conference in the series would be hosted by the Philippines in April 2006. Another ongoing study explores potential and relevance of regional cooperation in biotechnology for Asian development. This paper, conducted in the framework of the ongoing work on Asian Economic Community, deals with the patterns of complementarity in capabilities in Asia, the relevance of regional cooperation for meeting the common needs and suggests a way forward.
South Asian economic integration has been a major area of research at RIS since the early 1990s. RIS studies and analysis have shaped the policy agenda and debates on economic integration in the region. In the period under review, a number of initiatives have been taken in policy research and dialogue to promote the process of regional cooperation.
The South Asia Development and Cooperation Report 2004 is the third in the series of Reports launched by RIS to provide an analysis of the macro-economic performance of South Asian economies against the background of global trends and the policy challenges being faced by them with a special focus on the role that regional economic integration could play. An early draft of the present Report was presented and discussed at the Sixth Meeting of the SAARC Network of Researchers, held in Islamabad on December 8, 2003. As per the recommendation of the Meeting of SAARC Network, some advance copies of the Report were sent to the Twelfth SAARC Summit held in Islamabad in January 2004. The Report was released by Chairman, RIS at a seminar organized by RIS in New Delhi on 27 January 2004 followed by a Panel Discussion by noted experts of the region, viz. Professor Muchkund Dubey; Dr A.R. Kemal, Director, PIDE, Islamabad, Dr Rehman Sobhan, Executive Director, SACEPS, Dhaka; and Dr Saman Kelegama, IPS, Colombo. RIS planned discussion meetings on the contents of the Report in other in Dhaka and Islamabad in collaboration with its network partners. See RIS Diary July 2004 and October 2004.
A study has been also conducted on the potential and prospects of monetary cooperation in South Asia. It discusses the rationale for monetary integration, examines the feasibility of Optimum Currency Area (OCA) in the region and makes some policy recommendations. The revised version of this paper has been issued as RIS Discussion Paper #71. Another contribution on the subject prepared at RIS is a policy brief (#9) on the single currency in South Asia that proposes a way forward for a currency union with a parallel currency to begin with. Both the papers were presented at RIS/SACEPS Seminar on Monetary Cooperation in South Asia held in New Delhi on December 23, 2003. The ongoing work on the subject covers a review of different approaches towards monetary and financial cooperation in Asia.
This study has been conducted within the framework of the SAARC Network of Researchers. This study attempts to examine the impact of SAPTA on bilateral preferential trade flows on conceded products both from the point of view of India’s imports as well as exports since SAPTA negotiations were implemented by the end of 1995. The study shows that import liberalization by India has stimulated preferential imports from Bangladesh both in value and share terms. A first draft of the study has been completed. It was discussed at a seminar organized at RIS. The study is being finalized with the comments and updation with more recent data that has become available. A revised draft of the study has been completed which was presented at the RIS/SACEPS Regional Conference on SAARC in August 2004. The study has been brought out as RIS Discussion Paper #86.
SAARC economic integration process is often viewed with skepticism and perceived as one perpetuating the asymmetries further in a number of key countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan but sometimes also in Nepal and even Sri Lanka. These apprehensions have affected the pace of regional economic integration in South Asia. Therefore, there is need for a better understanding among the people of the region about the gains from the regional economic integration and opportunity cost of non-cooperation. Against that background, the proposed project will quantify the gains from regional economic integration for the region and for each of the participant country. This will be accompanied by identification of other benefits of regional economic integration such as its potential in facilitating intra-regional FDI flows and building supply capabilities and the pros and cons of regional versus bilateral approaches. The study will also provide a way forward to the region for optimizing the gains from regional economic integration. The findings will be disseminated among the policy makers and other opinion makers through Policy Workshops, RIS South Asia Development and Cooperation Reports and Policy Briefs and newspaper columns. It will be conducted in collaboration with researchers from institutions in different SAARC countries. RIS is currently discussing the proposal with ADB for possible funding. The study will have an eighteen months time frame.
FAO assigned to RIS a study to look into role of regional and sub-regional cooperation in Asia to address poverty, food security, sustainable agriculture and rural development. The RIS study outlined a strategy to facilitate achievement of a common understanding and modalities for addressing the regional challenges by fostering discussion of the linkages between action by the sub-regional and regional organizations, multilateral and civil society organizations. The RIS study was presented as a background note at the FAO Regional High Level Roundtable on Regional Programmes and Cooperation for Eradication of Poverty and Food Insecurity in Asia and the Pacific held on February 23-24, 2004 at Bangkok, Thailand.
The study presented to FAO is being elaborated further in the context of South Asia in the context of the adoption of SAARC Social Charter and the Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation (ISACPA) Report adopted at the Islamabad Summit in January 2004.
India and Sri Lanka launched a bilateral FTA in 1998 which became operational in 2000. Encouraged by the good experience with FTA in expanding the mutual trade in an equitable and balanced manner, the two governments decided to expand the scope of economic cooperation to cover investment and services in the framework of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). A Joint Study Group (JSG) was set up to prepare a blue print of CECA. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs requested RIS to prepare a study on investment for discussions at the Joint Group Meeting. Accordingly, RIS prepared a study on Investment Relations between India-Sri Lanka: Some Analyses and Policy Recommendations and submitted it to the Ministry of External Affairs in July 2003. Subsequently RIS was requested to prepare an integrated draft of the Indian and Sri Lankan inputs for incorporation in the Report of JSG. The JSG concluded its work and finalized its Report at its Meeting held in Candy, Sri Lanka in October 2003.
RIS has been supporting the ASEAN-India Partnership with policy research and promoting dialogue and networking of think-tanks. The work accomplished during the period is summarized below.
The ASEAN-India Summit held in Bali had put a lot of emphasis on the preparation of an ASEAN-India Vision 2020 Paper by RIS and the ASEAN think-tanks. RIS prepared a draft vision paper on ASEAN-India relationships on the basis of extensive consultations within the country with the different stake-holders. This draft was presented and discussed at a National Consultative Workshop organized in Delhi in December 2003. It was later circulated among the ASEAN Think-Tanks through the ASEAN Secretariat. RIS organized a Consultative Meeting on March 4-5, 2004 with heads or senior officials of ASEAN think-tanks connected with ASEAN-ISIS and other experts to discuss and finalize the document with their inputs. The Document finalized at this meeting was submitted to the official process as a Track II input for further work at the official process and eventual adoption at the Third Summit. The document presents a broad long-term vision of the evolving partnership and appends an action plan for achieving these vision in different areas.
The Lecture Series has been coordinated by RIS since 1998 to promote people-to-people contacts and generate ideas for taking the ASEAN-India partnership forward. The Lecture Series has involved many distinguished personalities such as Prime Minister Mahathir, Prime Minister Thaksin, Dr C. Rangarajan and Dr Narayanamurthy from India. RIS has also published a volume based on the texts of lectures delivered upto 2002. It has been decided to launch the next phase of the programme. As part of this, ASEAN Secretary-General H.E. Ong Keng Yong delivered the Fifteenth India-ASEAN Eminent Persons Lecture on the theme of Forging ASEAN-India Partnership for the 21st Century in New Delhi on October 18, 2004. See RIS Diary January 2005.
India’s engagement with ASEAN as a part of her Look East Policy has progressed steadily to an annual Summit level interaction since 2002. The leaders of India and ASEAN countries at their Second Summit in October 2003 in Bali signed the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation that provides for a Free Trade Arrangement between India and ASEAN to be implemented over ten years. The leaders of ASEAN and India are clearly aiming at further deepening of economic integration of their economies beyond the implementation of an FTA in trade of goods and services as is clear from the proposed adoption of a Long-term Vision 2020 paper prepared by think-tanks led by RIS at the Laos Summit in 2004. The proposed project aims to provide research and policy advisory services to the concerned governments on the policy steps that need to be taken to exploit their synergies fully. In particular, it will advise the governments on operationalization of the Framework Agreement and further elaboration of the Vision 2020 of the partnership. It will also make further proposals for deepening of the economic integration between ASEAN and India. RIS has been in touch with ADB for raising resources for this project. RIS has already launched studies on one aspect of the negotiations, viz. rules of origins.
The broad objective of the project is to analyse the present status and future prospects for trade and investment between India and the three countries in the GMS, viz. Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam. Apart from identifying certain areas of mutually beneficial cooperation, the proposed study intends to come up with an advocacy document for public education on the relevance of mutual cooperation. As the countries under study are the less developed among the ASEAN, the proposed initiative has to be seen against the backdrop of India’s commitment towards helping ASEAN bridging the development divide between Old and New ASEAN member countries. India’s commitment to bridging the ASEAN divide has been stated in the Framework Agreement between India and the ASEAN on the one hand and the India-ASEAN Vision 2020 as proposed by RIS and ASEAN–India Network of Think Tanks. This project is being undertaken by RIS in partnership with CUTS, Jaipur and will involve collaboration with institutes in the concerned countries, viz. Cambodian Legal Resources Development Centre (CLDRC), National University of Laos (NUL) and Institute of World Economics and Politics (IWEP), Vietnam. An inception meeting with stake-holders is being planned.
Rules of Origin (RoO) have emerged as one of the many important issues of inter-governmental negotiations under various trading arrangements, in general and between India and other countries/regions, in particular. Given the complexity of issues on the subject, RIS is conducting a study on “Rules of Origin Issues in India’s Economic Partnership Agreements with Other Countries: An Approach Paper on Change in Tariff Heading Criterion”, sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. The study specifically focuses on the analytics of the change in tariff classification criterion and on identification of items at HS 6-digit level that do not qualify for stipulations of tariff shifts at HS 4-digit level of trade classification.
The study also forms a part of the agenda of the Expert Group on Preferential Rules of Origin, set up by the Government of India, 2004. RIS is represented on this Group. A preliminary draft of the study was presented in the Third Meeting of the Expert Group on 16 July 2004 at New Delhi.
Bangladesh-India-Myanmar-Sri Lanka-Thailand Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a sub-regional grouping combining some geographically contiguous South Asian and ASEAN countries in the Bay of Bengal. RIS, in consultation with the Institute for Policy Studies, Colombo; International Institute for Trade and Development, Bangkok; and Centre for Policy Dialogue, Dhaka, prepared the study Future Directions of BIMSTEC: Towards a Bay of Bengal Economic Community (BoBEC), as per the mandate provided by the Fourth BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting held in Yangon on December 21, 2001. RIS study presents some thoughts on the future directions of the Grouping.
The RIS Report recommends that the grouping should set its goal to form a Bay of Bengal Economic Community by the year 2020. A BIMSTEC Fund for Regional Projects should also be established for further strengthening of business links. It makes a number of recommendations for mutual cooperation in transport infrastructure. The energy demand-supply sectors in BIMSTEC countries offer a potential for regional resource cooperation, which could go beyond export-import trade relations and link the region in a Bay of Bengal Energy Community. There could also be fruitful cooperation between the BIMSTEC countries in technology management and capability building, in dealing with the digital divide, among other areas. Cooperation should also be promoted in tourism, fisheries, auto, SMEs and other sectors.
An early version of the study was circulated at the BIMSTEC Ministerial Meetings held in Phuket, Thailand on February 7-8, 2004. A Policy Brief (#12) was also issued based on the study.
The India-China trade and investment relations have expanded rapidly over the past few years suggesting their potential and complementarities. There seems to be a case for deepening of economic relations between India and China and exploit the synergies for common benefit, given their dynamism. RIS work programme seeks to support this process with analytical research as well as with policy dialogue.
The main objective of the studies is to assist the work of the India-China Joint Study Group (JSG) that has been set up following the visit of the Indian Prime Minister to China in June 2003 to explore the feasibility of the two countries moving towards a comprehensive economic partnership agreement and draw up a programme for development of India-China trade, investment and other economic exchanges over the next five years. Director-General, RIS is a member of the JSG and the Ministry of External Affairs has requested RIS to conduct studies to assist the work of JSG. To provide inputs for the work of JSG, the study seeks to analyze the patterns of trade and investment linkages between India and China and examine the case for a preferential or free trade arrangement or a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement to exploit the synergies between the two countries. In particular, the study covers the context and relevance of China-India economic cooperation and potential of investment flows between India and China. Some draft papers have already been submitted to the Ministry of External Affairs for presentation at the Meetings of JSG.
RIS has established contacts with a number of Chinese think-tanks to facilitate policy dialogue and exchange of views on development issues of mutual interest. Following the visit of DG-RIS to the Development Research Centre (DRC) of the State Council of China in April 2003 and subsequent discussions, a high-level delegation of DRC led by Dr Sun Xioau, Vice-President and Vice-Minister visited RIS in March 2004 when a Joint Policy Dialogue on certain issues concerning economic reforms and macroeconomic performance, trade and WTO related issues took place. Subsequently DRC signed MoU to continue such dialogue and has invited RIS to visit DRC.
RIS has launched a work programme on India-Central Asia Economic Relations. The work programme covers preparation of a number of research/policy papers and organization of seminars. A seminar was organized in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Delhi in October 2003 where some of the in-house studies were presented along with those by experts from other institutions. RIS and CII are now bringing out a publication based on these presentations at the seminar. A follow-up seminar is also proposed to be organized in Mumbai in 2005. These studies prepared will be further elaborated and published.