Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei): India is keen to expand its cooperation with Brunei in combating global terrorism, Vice President Hamid Ansari said on Wednesday, the third day of his visit to this southeast Asian nation.
“The scourge of terrorism is a challenge for all peace loving countries of the world,” Ansari while delivering a speech at the University of Brunei here.
“We are determined to combat this menace with strong cooperation from like-minded countries. We would be keen to expand our cooperation with Brunei in combating global terrorism, particularly preventing financing of terrorism through sharing of information,” he said.
According to Ansari, energy trade is an area where India and Brunei have strong complementarities.
“At present India imports crude oil worth $1 billion from Brunei. Though India is the third largest importer for Brunei, the total import from Brunei is only a fraction of India’s global crude imports of more than $112.748 billion in 2014-15,” he said.
He said that with India's growing energy requirements, Brunei has an opportunity to enhance export of hydrocarbon to India.
Stating that the growing Indian economy also provides an opportunity to move beyond the typical energy seller-buyer relationship, the vice president said: “In this context, India is keen to work with the government of Brunei in setting up a fertiliser plant that would make use of the hydrocarbon resources available here for producing fertilisers to meet agricultural requirement in India.”
He also lauded the contributions of the 10,000-strong Indian community of professionals like doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers and skilled personnel to the economy of Brunei.
“The quality of our professionals is a testimony to the strength of academic institutions in India. This is another area for us to collaborate. We would welcome more exchanges of students, teachers and researchers from the academic institutions in Brunei, including this university,” Ansari said.
He also said that information technology was another area in which India would be keen to share its experience and expertise with Brunei.
Ansari said that both India and Brunei have an interest in maintaining the safety of sea-lanes and maritime security.
“For some years now, Indian naval ships have been visiting Brunei and your ships have also participated in some of joint exercises. This has laid the grounds for deepening our cooperation in the defence sector, including by training of defence personnel in various fields.”
He said that India and Brunei shared common perspectives on several global issues, including that of climate change.
“India has a long history and tradition of harmonious co-existence between man and nature. Human beings here have regarded fauna and flora as part of their family,” he said.
Stating that both India and Brunei have equal stakes in the security and prosperity of the shared Asian neighbourhood, he said the scope of India’s engagement with east and southeast Asia has grown steadily in the last two decades.
“It is to the great credit of the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries that they have led the way in cooperation and integration, not only among themselves, but also in the broader region,” he said, adding that for India, this was an article of faith of its Look East policy.
Stating that India valued Brunei's support in making India a full dialogue partner of the Asean, Ansari said New Delhi's Look East policy was aimed at integrating “multifaceted relations with Asean and beyond”.
“Last year with the advent of a new government, we upgraded our policy towards southeast and east Asia from 'Look East’ to 'Act East' - to indicate India’s resolve to move with a great sense of priority and speed to intensify our cooperation in security, trade, investment, connectivity and capacity building and strengthening people-to-people linkages with the Asean countries,” he said.
The vice president also said that the ‘Make in India’ initiative has opened up new vistas for investments from Asean countries into India, including in sectors such as smart cities, roads and highways, ports, railways, power and urban infrastructure.
“Enhancing connectivity between India and Asean in all its aspects - physical, institutional and people-to-people - is a key strategic priority for us. Our northeastern region is our land-bridge to the Asean,” he said.
“As Asean engages in charting out its post-2015 roadmap, India is also working on drafting the ASEAN-India Plan of Action for the period 2016-2021, to translate the Asean-India Strategic Partnership Vision into concrete action for greater progress and prosperity of our peoples and countries,” the vice president stated.