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First India-Central Asia Summit held virtually: focuses on strengthening trade connectivity

India Central Asia Summit held
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On Thursday, the first ever virtual India-Central Asia Summit was held to strengthen the ties between the participant countries. The focal point of the agenda was to cement the trade links and connectivity through the Chabahar Port in Iran. The Port is being developed by India and will be crucial in providing sea-land access to the landlocked Central Asian countries along with the INSTC. The plan is to develop Joint Working Groups (JWGs) at the Port for free movement of goods and services between India and the Central Asian countries. India also proposed to include the Turkmenbashi Port within the framework of the INSTC.

Back in mid-2021, India magnified its export prospects via the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) connecting India with Central Asia and Russia. The INSTC is a 7,200 km-long multimodal transportation network encompassing sea, road, and rail routes which offer the shortest route of connectivity while linking the Indian Ocean to Caspian Sea via the Persian Gulf onwards into Russia and Northern Europe. 

Watch here: PM Narendra Modi Addressing the India-Central Asia Summit. / Twitter

The Summit revolved around three main objectives. First, to make it clear that cooperation between India and Central Asia is essential for regional security and prosperity. From the Indian point of view, I would like to emphasise that Central Asia is central to India’s vision of an integrated and stable extended neighbourhood. The second objective is to give an effective structure to our cooperation. This will establish a framework of regular interactions at different levels and among various stakeholders. And the third objective is to create an ambitious roadmap for our cooperation.”

~ Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The agenda of the Summit also entailed ramping up defence ties, institutionalizing Indo-Central Asian ties with such Summits every 2 years and organizing a ‘Round Table on Energy and Connectivity’. It was also agreed at the Summit to consider holding joint counter-terrorism exercises between India and interested Central Asian countries.

The reform and developmental measures were taken under the Delhi Declaration finalized in the Summit among Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. The leaders resonated on combined efforts to boost trade and investment in sectors including medicine, finance, renewable energy, information, digital and other advanced technologies.

India’s extension of the Line of Credit was also discussed as it has extended the LoC to USD 1 billion for development of infrastructure, and has offered more training slots and scholarships to meet the requirement of Central Asian countries.

Apart from the India-Central Asia Dialogue meetings, it’s been decided that the Summit be held every 2 years, plus, the Ministers of Trade and Commerce will also meet at regular intervals to strengthen the commercial ties. All five Central Asian countries agreed to India establishing the ‘India-Central Asia Centre’ in New Delhi which will act as the secretariat for the India-Central Asia Summit. They leaders also took note of the proposal to create an India-Central Asia Investment Club under ICABC to promote investment opportunities in each other’s countries.

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