Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Friday that India-ASEAN relations were at an "exciting stage" and expressed confidence that the free trade agreement in services and investment would transform economic relationships.
Flagging down 22-day, eight-nation India-ASEAN Car Rally from New Delhi, Singh said India and ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) should build a web of linkages to unleash the vast economic potential of the region.
"Our future will be driven by the bonds of connectivity we build in the coming years," Singh said while welcoming the participants in the car rally in the presence of heads of state and government of ASEAN nations.
"These physical bonds will be strengthened by digital links, which will help our younger generations to network better. Together, this web of linkages will help unleash the vast economic potential of our region, accelerate development and deepen our strategic partnership," he said.
Observing that India-ASEAN ties were at an "exciting stage", Singh said the two sides had framed a new paradigm by elevating the relationship to a strategic partnership and by concluding negotiations on free trade agreement in services and investment.
On Thursday, India and the 10-member ASEAN moved closer to finalising a free trade agreement (FTA) on services and investments (See: India, Asean clinch FTA deal on services and investments). The two sides are expected to sign the pact in August 2013.