Prime Minister Modi arrives in Bangkok on a three-day visit amid the RCEP negotiations

BANGKOK: Prime Minister Narendra Modi He arrived here on Saturday in a three-day visit amid renewed diplomatic efforts to convince India to support the signing of a mega trade agreement involving 16 nations in Asia and the Pacific to facilitate the creation of the free trade region more biggest in the world.

The prime minister will attend the 16th ASEAN-India Summit, the 14th and the third summit meeting (RCEP) that is negotiating the trade agreement.

Although the annual ASEAN and East Asia summits are key platforms for designing a common strategy to deal with the geostrategic and economic problems facing the region, this time the only focus has been on the RCEP trade agreement negotiated for a long time.

Multiple diplomatic sources confirmed to PTI that, except India, the 15 RCEP countries were on board to finalize the agreement when the leaders of the group held a summit meeting on Monday.

“At the RCEP Summit, we will take stock of the progress in the RCEP negotiations. We will consider all issues, even if India's concerns and interests in trade in goods, services and investments are fully taken into account during this summit, ”Modi said in a statement in New Delhi before his visit here.

At the India-ASEAN summit, Modi said the focus will be on deepening economic partnerships and expanding maritime cooperation as well as improving mechanisms led by ASEAN.

“I will review our cooperation activities with ASEAN partners and examine plans to strengthen the mechanisms led by ASEAN and ASEAN, improve connectivity (maritime, land, air, digital and person-to-person), deepen economic alliances and expand maritime cooperation, he said.

The annual ASEAN summit, a grouping of 10 influential countries, takes place amidst China's aggressive behavior in the disputed South China Sea, as well as in the region. The powerful group will have separate summits with its dialogue partners such as India, the United States, Japan, Russia and China

The ASEAN region together with India as a whole comprises a combined population of 1.85 billion people, which is a quarter of the world's population and its combined GDP has been estimated at more than USD 3.8 billion. ASEAN's investment in India has exceeded USD 70 billion in the last 17 years, representing more than 17 percent of India's total FDI.

In addition to attending the India-ASEAN and RCEP summits, the prime minister will also attend the annual East Asia summit that is expected to review the evolving security scenario in the region, as well as discuss ways to deal with the threat of terrorism and radicalization.

While ASEAN summit is likely to focus more on trade and investment related issues, leaders at the East Asia Summit are expected to delve deep into issues relating to maritime security, terrorism , non-proliferation and migration.

“The East Asia Summit (EAS) is today the main element in the regional cooperative architecture, as a unique structure led by leaders that focuses on ASEAN and includes as members the main countries of the region or with important interests in it . We will review important regional and global issues in the EAS Agenda, and examine the status of our current programs and projects, ”said the prime minister.

I will also focus on our Indo-Pacific strategy, in which I am pleased to observe strong convergence with ASEAN partners and others in the EAS, he said.

Apart from the 10 ASEAN Member states, East Asia Summit includes India, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, , New Zealand, United States and Russia .