ASEAN-India Economic Relations: Current Status and Future Prospects

Abstract: This paper analyzes recent trends in merchandise trade, services, investments, and manpower flows between India and ASEAN, and assesses future prospects for economic cooperation. Since India’s Look-East policy initiated in the early 1990s, there has been steady progress in economic cooperation and supporting institutional structures between India and ASEAN. There has also been a welcome diversification of India’s trade with ASEAN both in terms of the share of individual members in total trade, and goods and services being traded. The analysis in the paper is consistent with the view that India’s economic structure is largely complementary to ASEAN economies, and therefore there are significant opportunities for mutual gain. In Indian policy and business circles, ASEAN continues to be regarded as an economically important region. The paper however argues that a mindset change is needed among ASEAN policy makers and businesses before potential for mutual gains can be fully tapped. The paper concludes with specific suggestions for expanding cooperation between India and ASEAN countries.