Updated: 11/22/2012 19:41

ASEAN-India 20th anniversary car rally in Singapore on 28 November- ESM Goh

ASEAN-India 20th anniversary car rally in Singapore on 28 November- ESM Goh

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong says the region which stands to benefit most from a collaborative relationship between China and India is arguably Southeast Asia.

At the same time, Southeast Asia offers a prime location and multi-sectoral opportunities for China and India to work together, and with others, and to enhance mutual understanding between both countries.

Mr Goh was speaking at the International conference on South Asia. 

A car rally to commemorate the 20th anniversary of ASEAN-India relations will start next week, on 26 November, at Yogyakarta in Indonesia.

The entourage of 30 cars will be in Singapore on 28 November and will continue its tour of mainland Southeast Asia before reaching its final destination in New Delhi on 21 December when the commemorative summit for the ASEAN-India ties will take place.

Mr Goh says such an endeavour would probably have been unimaginable 20 years ago.

Giving his overview on the world economic situation and the response of China and India, he believes that at a time when the world is experiencing strong headwinds like the US fiscal cliff, the Eurozone crisis, and tensions in the Middle East, China and India would want to focus on economic growth to lift the living standards of their peoples, rather than pursue external forays which will distract them from this goal.

Mr Goh explains that in China, the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party will depend largely on its ability to deliver a better economic livelihood for its people.

And in India, the ruling parties will be voted out if they failed to do likewise.

Mr Goh stressed that China and India's growth is a boon for many countries around the globe.

He says, "A wider choice of everyday products manufactured in these countries fills our shelves. They are buying commodities, minerals and manufactured products from all over. And air travel has brought more Chinese and Indian tourists to our shores."

China and India's rapid growth has also resulted in a rebalancing of the global economy in favour of Asia.

Companies and jobs have migrated to Asia where goods and services can be produced most competitively.

{Mr Goh said, "China has become known as the "factory of the world" and India the "back office of the world". But they will not stop at that. As both economies become more developed, we can expect to see more types of jobs move into China and India, while the less competitive ones in these countries may move out to elsewhere."}

The question was, would China and India continue to grow strongly.

Mr Goh says his opinion is that they will, at least over the next 20 years, the many grave challenges notwithstanding.

ESM Goh explains, "This is not to say that China and India will rise and rise without interruption. They face considerable domestic challenges. Some are already on the horizon and will be common to both. Ensuring inclusive and sustainable growth will be a major preoccupation for many years to come, and eradicating corruption will be an uphill task for both. India is at an inflexion point. The weight of its problems recently compelled Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to re-set India's path with bold, new economic reforms. I hope he will not lift his foot off the accelerator.China, on its part, is also aware of the limitations of its current export-driven model of development. Transitioning to a model that emphasises sustainable growth and increased domestic consumption will be a key responsibility of the incoming leadership helmed by President-elect Xi Jinping. I am nonetheless confident that both countries will continue with their economic reforms - not dramatically but steadily. I have visited China and India many times, and have met many of their leaders, senior government officials and industry captains. They are clear about the scale and degree of difficulty in the challenges that are before them."

Mr Goh adds that it is important to continually explore and expand beyond existing areas of cooperation.

One way is through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), through which ASEAN aims to foster regional economic integration and inclusive growth with our other major trading partners.

Mr Goh says it is an ambitious endeavour.

Ad he adds that it is good that China and India have agreed to join RCEP as it would entrench their linkages to Southeast Asia, and to each other, by embedding them in a regional economic architecture that seeks to promote prosperity and stability.

The second possibility is the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, which ASEAN hopes will open new opportunities and concretise our ASEAN community through enhanced physical, institutional, and people-to-people links.

Mr Goh says, China and India are welcome to help ASEAN achieve its vision.

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