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New Delhi’s ‘Act East’ and the India-ASEAN Engagement: What They Mean for India-Korea Relations in the Indo-Pacific 표지
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Title New Delhi’s ‘Act East’ and the India-ASEAN Engagement: What They Mean for India-Korea Relations in the Indo-Pacific
Author Jagannath P. Panda
Series Working paper 19-05
Language English
Date 2019-05-07

   One of the principal objectives of New Delhi’s ‘Act East Policy’ (AEP) is to strengthen India’s contact with the ASEAN as well as with the countries in Southeast Asia. The pursuit is evolving and ever-growing, both institutionally and regionally. With a focus on ASEAN-centric cooperation, forging a closer multi-modal connectivity cooperation between India’s bordering states and the immediate Southeast Asian countries has been one of the guiding principles of this engagement. Also, this engagement is becoming deeper with India aiming to extend the connectivity cooperation to the interior parts of the ASEAN region from the immediate neighbouring region of India. A renewed focus on engagement through increased cooperation in areas such as economic, political and security realms offers a positive future graph to the India-ASEAN engagement at present which is becoming one of the defining features of Indo-Pacific.
   With the possible conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in 2019-20, the regional economic architecture will move to a new level of maturity in which India would like to factor in its engagement strongly with the other countries. More importantly, it is in India’s interests to further deeper cooperation with the ASEAN as an institution. The economic role of ASEAN’s dialogue partners, especially that of China, will test India’s relationship character with the ASEAN. How should India react to the evolving regional economic and security architecture around the ASEAN?
   Options for India are perhaps plenty. Yet, India needs to find strategic compatibility with most of the ASEAN dialogue partners – some of which are influential economic actors in the region – to position its strategic interests more coherently. South Korea (officially known as the Republic of Korea) is one of those prime actors with whom India must envision to have more policy convergence keeping the ASEAN framework in mind, and draw strategic compatibility in specific areas of cooperation and mutual benefit. This study examines India’s growing engagement with the ASEAN and factors how India-South Korea could possibly cooperate within and outside an ASEAN framework. The study tries to establish policy convergence between India’s Act East Policy (AEP) and South Korea’s New Southern Policy (NSP), bilaterally and regionally, factoring the ASEAN and the countries around as the central focus of this cooperation.

Keywords: Act East, New Southern Policy, ASEAN, Indo-Pacific, Connectivity
JEL Classification: R50

Executive Summary

1. India’s ASEAN Significance: A Primer
1-1. The ASEAN Distinction
1-2. Objective of the Study
1-3. Methodology and Structure
1-4. Significance of the study

2. From “Look East” to “Act East” to “Act Indo-Pacific”: Factoring South Korea
2-1. India’s LEP: The ASEAN and a New Beginning with South Korea
2-2. Strategic Partnership: Transitioning from the LEP to AEP and Relations with South Korea
2-3. “Act East”: Taking Guard in the Indo-Pacific with ASEAN Centrality
2-4. “Delhi Dialogue”: Deliberating for an Action-Oriented Engagement

3. Scaling Connectivity in the East and Bridging the Gap
3-1. Delhi Declaration to AICS: Endorsing the ASEAN Spirit
3-2. IMT Trilateral Highway (IMTTH): Emerging as a New Gateway
3-3. Kaladan: Not Just a Transport Connectivity Project
3-4. “Bharatmala Pariyojana”: Neighbourhood First Policy and Land-Based Connectivity
3-5. BBIN, BIMSTEC and the MGC: “Neighbourhood First” to “Destination ASEAN” to “ASEAN First” Approach
3-6. The BCIM and Connectivity Cooperation with China
3-7. India’s Cautious Approach to BCIM
3-8. Between Connectivity and Conflict: Reviving the Ancient Silk Route
3-9. The Stillwell Road and Car Rally
3-10. Fukuda Vision: India-Japan Connectivity Cooperation in the ASEAN Framework
3-11. Japan’s Chemistry with Northeast India to Test China’s Nerve
3-12. Tokyo Strategy 2018 and India-Japan Possible Cooperation 

4. India-ASEAN FTA and the Regional Economic Architecture
4-1. An ASEAN-centered Economic Engagement
4-2. ASEAN-India Cooperation-Contradiction Context
4-3. India’s Cautious but Ambitious Approach on the RCEP
4-4. China’s Unilateralism on Free Trade and India
4-5. Japan: More of a Bilateral Economic Partner
4-6. South Korea: A Potentially Great Economic Partner

5. ASEAN and India-South Korea Cooperation in ASEAN by 2025
5-1. Why an ASEAN Framework of Cooperation?
5-2. India-South Korea Ties Vis-à-vis the India-China and India-Japan Ties in ASEAN
5-3. A Country-specific ASEAN Engagement
5-4. Exploring Connectivity Cooperation
5-5. Avenues for Cooperation in SAARC and BIMSTEC
5-6. Search for a ‘Plus’ Policy Context
5-7. Policy Recommendations


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