Modi Outlined India's Vision for Peaceful, Open and Inclusive Indo-Pacific Region
| Ashok Dixit, Editor - Foreign Affairs, IOP - 15 Nov 2018

PM Modi wraps up successful Singapore visit

Modi Outlined India's Vision for Peaceful, Open and Inclusive Indo-Pacific Region


By Ashok Dixit

New Delhi/Singapore, Nov 15, 2018: Prime Minister Narendra Modi was heading back to India late Thursday after attending the 13th East Asia Summit where he reiterated India's vision for a peaceful, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. He also called for enhanced maritime cooperation and a commitment towards having a balanced Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with member states of the ASEAN.

The East Asia Summit consists of ten ASEAN nations (Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, The Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei and Laos), Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the United States.

During his two-day multilateral visit to Singapore, which commenced from Wednesday (November 15) morning, Modi participated in the ASEAN-India Breakfast Summit, delivered a keynote address at the third Fintech Festival and held bilateral meetings with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, and the Prime Ministers of Singapore, Australia and Thailand.

He also met winning innovators at the first ever Singapore-India Hackathon, where the latter talked about their extensive work. The Prime Minister said he was impressed by their passion and commitment towards solving the problems the world.

He interacted with National Cadet Corps (NCC) cadets, who got the opportunity to come to Singapore as a part of a cadet exchange programme. They shared their memorable learnings and experiences with Modi.

The signature event of the visit was Modi’s interaction with United States Vice President Michael Pence, where it was specifically acknowledged by the latter that India had made substantial progress economically and diplomatically in regional and international affairs under the former’s strong leadership.

Vice President Pence further said that Washington is looking forward to working with New Delhi on various issues. Both leaders also referred to their shared values and commitment to democracy based on rule of law and constitutional processes.

Prime Minister Modi also outlined India’s vision of the Indo-Pacific, which he claimed was gaining acceptability and urged that the 13th East Asia Summit be used to further build up on that. Vice President Pence also spoke of a free and open Indo-Pacific, adding that India’s contribution would be important.

Bilaterally, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said the focus was on trade-related matters and how further efforts could be made to reduce the existing trade deficit that New Delhi has with Washington.

Gokhale said, “There was a lot of discussion on energy, this is a new sector in the Indo-U.S. relations. We have begun importing oil and gas from United States. It is expected to be valued at about USD 4 billion this year and we expressed our readiness to import more oil and more gas from the United States as a way of expanding our trade.”

Both sides also agreed that there has been a substantial enhancement in the bilateral defence relationship, with Prime Minister Modi particularly stressing that the United States has a great opportunity in making defence equipment and setting up a defence industry in India.

The issue of terrorism came during the meeting, wherein, both leaders appreciated the very high level of bilateral cooperation on counter-terrorism.

The Prime Minister expressed his appreciation for President Donald Trump hosting a Diwali event at the White House and for highlighting the contributions that have been made by the Americans of Indian origin and the Indian-American community over the last several decades. Keeping this in mind, he appealed to the United States leadership to look at the whole H1B visa issue in a more holistic manner.

During his meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the MEA spokesman said both leaders met on the sidelines of the 13th East Asia Summit and had a good exchange of views on how to cooperate further in areas of financial technology, enhanced connectivity and promotion of regional economic integration.

At the third FINTECH Festival, Modi highlighted the need for using financial technology (FINTECH) to improve the lives of marginalised sections around the world.

"We are in an age of historic transition brought about by technology. From desktop to Cloud, from Internet to social media, from IT services to Internet of Things, we have come a long way in a short time," Modi said.

"There is daily disruption in businesses, the character of the global economy is changing, technology is defining competitiveness and power in the world and it is creating boundless opportunities to transform lives. We must ensure that the pace and the push of FINTECH works to the advantage of the people, not to their disadvantage. That technology in finance ensures improvement of the human condition through direct contact with the most marginalised," he added.

"Fintech will need to be not merely a mechanism, but a movement," he said.

He also formally launched an online marketplace that will connect technology start-ups and financial institutions in Asia and beyond along with Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

The platform — known as APIX, or API Exchange — was first announced in September. According to media reports one of its aims would be to drive financial inclusion across Asia Pacific and create a regulated space for financial institutions and fintech firms to collaborate and experiment on new technologies. It will be developed and operated by a global consortium led by technology company Virtusa.

India and ASEAN have 30 dialogue mechanisms operating at various levels. These include a summit and seven ministerial meetings in foreign affairs, defence, commerce, agriculture, environment, renewable energy and telecommunications.

At the RCEP Summit, India reiterated its commitment to achieving a forward looking, balanced and mutually beneficial economic partnership.

Participants reviewed progress made on the proposed free trade agreement presently being negotiated between 16 countries i.e. ten ASEAN Member States, India, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.

(The writer Ashok Dixit is a senior journalist with 24 years of rich cross-editorial functional experience in covering and reporting on developments in South Asia. He had been associated with ANI as a Senior Editor for more than two decades. He can be contacted at


Prime Minister Narendra Modi; India; 13th East Asia Summit; India's vision; Indo-Pacific region; Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP); ASEAN; East Asia Summit; ASEAN nations; Indonesia; Thailand; Singapore; Malaysia; Philippines;  Vietnam; Myanmar; Cambodia; Brunei; Laos; Australia; China; Japan; New Zealand; South Korea; Russia; United States; ASEAN-India Breakfast Summit; Third Fintech Festival; U.S. Vice President Mike Pence; Prime Minister of Singapore; Singapore-India Hackathon;

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