Washington: Making a strong case for India's membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a former Australian Prime Minister and a top US corporate leader have said the forum would help it achieve its economic potential and bolster its Act East policy.
Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd-led Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) yesterday launched a task force to develop a strategy for gaining India's membership in the forum.
The ASPI initiative 'India and APEC: Charting a Path to Membership' will be supported in India by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
"To achieve its economic potential, India should become more fully integrated into global supply chains and international trade and investment flows," Rudd said in a statement.
Including India in APEC will help open India's economy to the region and the world, benefiting the country and its neighbors and trading partners, he said.
"Stronger trade and investment ties among India and other Asia-Pacific economies will not only generate economic benefits but also foster stability across the region.
"India's entry into APEC would make it a more inclusive forum for trade consultation and dialogue and thereby mitigate the divisive effects that new trade regimes in Asia could have," Rudd said.
Shyam Saran, former Foreign Secretary of India, said that joining APEC would bolster India's Act East policy by helping it improve its economic engagement and cooperation with Asia-Pacific countries.
MasterCard President and CEO Ajay Banga said that APEC membership would be a step towards India becoming better integrated with Asia-Pacific economies, which will be welcomed by the US and Asian businesses that want to invest more in India.
Rudd, Saran and Banga are members of the task force which include participants from various APEC economies, such as Indonesia, Korea, the Philippines and the US.
During the first year of the initiative, the task force will examine the challenges and opportunities of India's membership in APEC and develop a plan for its eventual accession to APEC, the statement said.
The members will share the findings with their governments during 2016, in anticipation of the APEC Summit scheduled to be held in Lima, Peru in November next year.