Your Excellency, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha;
I am delighted to attend the East Asia Summit for the sixth time. It is a matter of further satisfaction that Thailand, India’s historic and close friend, is hosting this Summit.India accords high priority to the East Asia Summit mechanism. This is a singular
Leaders-led mechanism that is both a platform for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, and Asia’s leading confidence-building mechanism. And its success owes much to the central role of ASEAN.
Your Majesty, Excellencies,
Our world is passing through turbulent times. Terrorism, violent extremism, sharpened conflict over resources and territory, including maritime space are the major problems of our times. International laws and rules, including those that govern the maritime
domain such as UNCLOS, are under increasing strain. Trans-boundary challenges such as climate change, marine pollution, and unregulated and excessive exploitation of resources are making our planet insecure.
Your Majesty, Excellencies,
It is in this quest for broader solutions that India welcomes the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. ASEAN has a central role in this maritime space. I outlined India’s own vision of the Indo-Pacific in Singapore in June 2018. Earlier, President Widodo of Indonesia
and I set out a Shared Vision on Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. And other partners have set out similar approaches as well. There are clear convergences in all of these approaches.
The EAS is the logical platform to promote a free, open, inclusive, transparent, rules-based, peaceful, prosperous Indo-Pacific region, where sovereignty and territorial integrity and the application of international law especially UNCLOS are assured to all
States equally. We all agree, and it is to the benefit of all of us that Indo-Pacific should be a space in which freedom of navigation, overflight, sustainable development, protection of the ecology and the marine environment, and an open, free, fair and mutually-beneficial
trade and investment system are guaranteed to all.
In this spirit, in line with priority areas in ASEAN’s Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, and the upcoming EAS statement for a Partnership on Sustainability, I propose a cooperative effort to translate principles for the Indo-Pacific into measures to secure our shared
I suggest an Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative, in this context.
In it, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 14—which calls on the world to "conserve and sustainably use” the maritime domain—we should make visible efforts to create a safe, secure and stable maritime domain. We should recognize the imperative for all
States in the region, and those with interests in it, to work collaboratively to safeguard the oceans including from plastic litter; build capacity and fairly share resources; reduce disaster risk; enhance science, technology and academic cooperation; and
promote free, fair and mutually beneficial trade and maritime transport.
Work in each sector could be led by one or two countries. This would help Governments align better with public opinion demanding cooperative solutions to global challenges. The initiative would be truly open, inclusive and cooperative. And it can develop institutional
roots as partners wish, step-by-step.
We are grateful to Australia for its positive outlook towards Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative.
I also suggest interested countries to engage in India’s Initiative on the pillars of maritime security and disaster risk reduction. As we will host – with Australia and Indonesia – the Fourth EAS Maritime Security Workshop next February, we can begin work
on the security pillar from that date.
India also proposes to organize an EAS Seminar on Conservation of Migratory Wildlife species with a view to share best practices in the conservation of mega-fauna like tiger, lion, elephant, rhino and snow leopards and also migratory marine wildlife. The event
could develop ideas for control of illegal trade in wildlife and its parts and products; discuss trans-boundary protected areas on land and sea to save apex predators and other species; and develop a green economy platform, especially in mountain areas.
I also propose that we should work toward implementing a 2017 ASEAN Regional Forum statement on Illegal, Unreported and Unlicensed Fishing. Recognizing the impact of such activities on livelihood security and food security – and hence social stability – in
littoral States and islands, we are ready to host an event on this larger security issue.
In the end, I would like to congratulate and extend my best wishes to Vietnam for chairing East Asia Summit mechanism next year. We look forward to work with Vietnam.
Your Excellency, Mr. Chairman; Your Majesty; Excellencies, I once again thank all of you.