India is known as a leading voice in international affairs. India’s economic size, vast and growing market, democratic institutions, access to ocean and foundation of science largely explain why India continues to play an important role in global and regional affairs. India is the only country in Asia having the heft to counterbalance China and thus welcomed by many countries in Asia and the Pacific. India has embarked on a period of radical changes in its foreign and economic policies. Faced with a major slowdown of India’s trade with Southeast and East Asia in 2014-15, the government responded by initiating far-reaching Act East Policy (AEP) aimed at greater economic integration with South, Southeast and East Asian nations. Started with a fresh vigour in 2014, AEP has gained a new momentum while acting on the east. The Act ‘East’ is now getting transformed into Act ‘Indo-Pacific’. The talk will elaborate on several key aspects of India’s economic relations and the challenges faced by India in the post-AEP period – especially on ambitious connectivity projects including the India-led BBIN, BIMSTEC and the Mekong Ganga Cooperation, China’s ambitious BRI and multilateral groupings such as SAARC and ASEAN, within the Indo-Pacific construct. Talk will present direction of India’s expanding neighbourhood.
Prabir De is a Professor at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), New Delhi, and also Head of the ASEAN-India Centre (AIC), RIS. He works in the field of international economics and has research interests in international trade and development. He was a Visiting Fellow of the Institute of Developing Economies (IDE-JETRO), Japan; Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), Tokyo; and Visiting Senior Fellow of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Bangkok. He has been conducting policy research for the Government of India and several national and international organisations. He has a M.Sc. in Economics from Calcutta University and Ph.D. in Economics from the Jadavpur University, Kolkata. He has contributed several research papers in international journals and written books on trade and development. His recent books include Act East to Act Indo-Pacific: India’s Expanding Neighbourhood (Knowledge World, 2020); Twenty Years of BIMSTEC: Promoting Regional Cooperation and Integration in the Bay of Bengal Region (Knowledge World, 2018; Reprint Routledge, 2020); Celebrating the Third Decade and Beyond: New Challenges to ASEAN–India Economic Partnership (Knowledge World, 2017; Reprint Routledge, 2018); Myanmar’s Integration with the World: Challenges and Policy Options (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), etc. He is also the Founding Editor of the Journal of Asian Economic Integration, published by Sage.