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Overview of P.M Modi’s visit to Thailand from November 2-4 2019

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The Prime Minister(PM) of India shri Narendra Modi paid a 3-day official visit to Thailand to attend India,East Asia- ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) and RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) summits for strengthening regional cooperation in areas like trade, maritime security and connectivity. The visit in detail are as follows,

35th ASEAN summit in Bangkok, Thailand:

The 35th edition of ASEAN summit began in Bangkok, Thailand, where it was inaugurated by Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan -o-Cha. The theme of the summit was “Advancing Partnership for sustainability”. The summit was held from October 31-November 4, 2019.35th ASEAN summit in Bangkok, Thailand

  • Current chair: Thailand is the chair of ASEAN for the year 2019. The chair country is selected in the rotating annual schedule.
  • 2020 chair: The Thailand PM, Chan -o-Cha, officially handed over the chairmanship to Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The chairmanship of Vietnam will begin on January 1, 2020.
  • During the summit, economic development of the ASEAN countries was discussed.

3rd RCEP Summit in Bangkok: 
PM Modi participated in the 3rd edition of the RCEP summit in Bangkok. RCEP is a proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the 10 members of the ASEAN and its 6 members FTA partners Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.

ASEAN members: The ASEAN members are Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Phillipines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.

3rd RCEP Summit

  • India opts out of RCEP deal: India decided not to join RCEP deal due to the failed negotiation related to the outstanding issues and concerns of New Delhi. It was also cited that the RCEP agreements were also not upto the standard of basic guiding principles. Click here to read Why India has said no to regional trade pact RCEP
  • All members of RCEP (except India) have concluded the text-based negotiations for the trade deal. The agreement is expected to be signed by 2020.
  • The purpose of the deal is to create an integrated market. This would ensure easier availability of products and services across the entire region.
  • It is one of the largest free-trade bloc accounting for 45% of the world’s population, and a combined GDP of about $21.3 trillion (around 30% of global GDP) and 40% of the world trade.
  • After India opts out of RCEP deal there is totally 15 Member countries[10 ASEAN members & 5 FTA Partner Members(Australia, China, Japan, Korea and New Zealand)]

14th East Asia Summit (EAS) in Bangkok:
The 14th East Asia Summit (EAS) and RCEP was also held after the ASEAN summit in Bangkok. Topics on security and cybercrime were discussed. 

  • Agenda of EAS: The agenda for the 14th edition of the EAS was to review the future direction of EAS cooperation and exchange views on regional and international issues. 
  • new initiatives for maritime security: Shri Modi proposed new initiative for creating safe and secure maritime domain in the Indo Pacific region and also proposed initiative to strengthen Blue economy (sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth). The idea was proposed during the 14th East Asia Summit(EAS).
  • Participants: the EAS participants included India, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Russia.

PM attended 16th India – ASEAN Summit:
Shri Modi attended the 16th edition of the ASEAN-India summit in Bangkok. This was his first official visit to the country to participate in the India-Asean Summit.  During the summit, India’s act east policy and areas such as surface, maritime, air and digital connectivity that needed improvement were discussed. 16th ASEAN-India Summit

  • The areas that needed improvement might benefit from the $1 billion Indian Line of Credit (LoC).
  • India expressed its interest to improve partnership in areas like agriculture, research, engineering, science and Information & Communication Technology(ICT).
  • New Delhi would offer 1,000 PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) scholarships to ASEAN students at the Indian Institute of Technology. The budget of the said initiative is worth Rs 300 crores. It is also the largest human resource initiative for ASEAN member countries by India and for any of ASEAN’s dialogue partner.

‘Sawasdee PM Modi’ community event in Bangkok:
PM Modi addressed ‘Sawasdee PM Modi’ community event in Bangkok. 

  • Thai translation of Thirukural: The Indian PM unveiled Thai translation of Thiruvalluvar’s tamil classic 
  • Coins released: He also released coins to commemorate 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak (the founder of sikhism).
  • Northeast connect: India expressed its interest and focus to deepen the North-East’s connect with Thailand. The India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway will also boost development in these countries.

PM attended Aditya Birla group golden jubilee celebrations:
PM Modi attended the 50th year or golden jubilee celebrations in Thailand. During the event efficiency through DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) scheme that has saved $20 billion so far was discussed. 

  • The Thailand 4.0 initiative, that aims to make Thailand a value based economy was also discussed.
  • Chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, Shri Kumar Mangalam Birla and other officials were present during the event.

Meet with leaders:

  • Meet with Japan PM:The Indian Prime Minister Modi met  Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo and discussed on the India-Japan 2+2 Dialogue & Annual Summit later by the end of 2019.
  • Meet with Vietnam PM: Shri Modi met Vietnam PM Mr Nguyen Xuan Phuc,and discussed the threat of extremism and terrorism where they agreed to work closely to tackle it. Both the nations committed to maintain the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • Meet with Australian PM: Mr. Scott Morrison met Modi during the summit and both leaders discussed and reaffirmed commitment for a transparent and inclusive Indo-Pacific region for promoting peace and prosperity.
  • Meet with Myanmar state counsellor: Indian PM met Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and held talks related to air connectivity of both nations, including India’s plan to host a business event for CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) in Yangon, Myanmar at the end of November 2019.
  • Meet with Indonesian President: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi met the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo and held discussions on bilateral trade and highlighted the need for greater market access for Indian commodities. The year 2019 also commemorates the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
  • Meet with the Thailand PM: PM of India and Thailand discussed on the ways of enhancing connectivity between the two countries that also includes areas of physical and digital connectivity.

About ASEAN:
Headquarters- Jakarta, Indonesia.
Founded- 8 August 1967.
Motto- “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.
Predecessor- ASEAN was preceded by an organisation formed on 31 July 1961 called the “Association of Southeast Asia” (ASA), a group consisting of Thailand, the Philippines, and the Federation of Malaya.

About RCEP:
Launch- RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.

About EAS:
Meeting: EAS meetings are held after the annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings, and plays an important role in the regional architecture of Asia-Pacific.
Members- EAS has 18 members- they are 10 ASEAN members along with  Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the United States and Russia.
First summit- 14 December 2005 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

About Thailand:
Capital: Bangkok.
Currency- Thai Baht.
King- Maha Vajiralongkorn.