Foreign Policy Watch: India-Southeast Asia

Manila and New Delhi: A 21st Century Partnership


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India- Philippines relations and its significance for regional cooperation in Indo Pacific


Central Idea

  • The year 2022 brought about a significant turning point for the world as Covid-19-related restrictions were gradually lifted, ushering in a renewed focus on international trade, commerce, and strategic partnerships. Against this backdrop, the Philippines and India have reinvigorated their cooperation after almost three years, aiming to strengthen bilateral ties and foster economic resurgence in the post-pandemic era.

Economic promise and growth trajectory of India and Philippines

  1. India’s Economic Promise and Growth Trajectory:
  • Projected Third-Largest Economy: India is projected to become the world’s third-largest economy by 2027. This forecast highlights the country’s immense economic potential and growth prospects.
  • Fastest-Growing Large Economy: India has consistently maintained an impressive average GDP growth of 5.5 percent over the past decade. This growth rate positions India as the fastest-growing among the large economies globally.
  • Investment Opportunities: India’s growing economy offers numerous investment opportunities across various sectors, attracting both domestic and foreign investors seeking to capitalize on its vibrant market and expanding consumer base.
  • Emerging Middle Class: India’s rising middle class presents a significant consumer market, driving consumption and fueling economic growth. The expanding middle class creates opportunities for businesses and stimulates economic development.
  1. Philippines’ Economic Promise and Growth Trajectory:
  • Upper-Middle-Income Status: The Philippines is on the threshold of achieving upper-middle-income status, which signifies significant progress in its economic development and per capita income.
  • Trillion-Dollar Economy by 2033: The Philippines aims to become a trillion-dollar economy by 2033, reflecting its ambitious goals for economic growth and prosperity.
  • Poverty Reduction and Socio-Economic Agenda: President Ferdinand R Marcos Jr’s socio-economic agenda focuses on reducing poverty and fostering sustainable economic growth. This agenda sets the stage for inclusive development and resilience in key sectors such as agriculture, energy, and infrastructure.
  • Empowerment and Inclusion: The Philippines places emphasis on empowering its population and fostering greater inclusion. By ensuring that the benefits of economic growth reach all segments of society, the country aims to create a more equitable and prosperous nation.

The prospects for expanding trade and economic cooperation between the Philippines and India

  • Innovation and New Technologies: Both countries have vibrant innovation ecosystems and a growing focus on technological advancements. Collaborative efforts in research and development, knowledge sharing, and technology transfer can lead to the creation of innovative solutions and products. This cooperation can enhance productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness in various sectors.
  • Clean Energy and Renewable Technologies: India has emerged as a global leader in renewable energy, particularly in the development of wind and solar power. The Philippines has also made substantial investments in renewable energy technologies. Leveraging India’s expertise and experience, there is scope for collaboration in clean energy projects, including the adoption of advanced renewable technologies, sharing best practices, and promoting sustainable energy solutions.
  • Digital Infrastructure and Connectivity: India’s “Digital India” initiative and the Philippines’ efforts to strengthen its digital infrastructure provide opportunities for collaboration. This can involve sharing knowledge, experiences, and technologies in digitalization, e-governance, cybersecurity, and data management. Strengthening digital connectivity can facilitate trade, e-commerce, and digital services between the two countries.
  • Defense and Security Cooperation: There is potential for deeper cooperation in defense and security between the Philippines and India. The signing of contracts for defense procurement, such as the Philippines’ procurement of India’s BrahMos Shore-based Anti-Ship Missile System, signifies the beginning of such collaborations. Both countries can further explore joint exercises, defense industry partnerships, and information-sharing mechanisms to enhance their defense capabilities and address common security challenges.
  • Regional Economic Integration: The Philippines and India’s engagements within the framework of ASEAN, coupled with India’s “Act East Policy,” provide avenues for regional economic integration. Strengthening economic ties, promoting trade facilitation measures, and improving connectivity within the ASEAN-India network can enhance regional trade and investment flows. Collaboration in infrastructure development, logistics, and trade facilitation can further deepen economic integration.
  • People-to-People Exchanges: Enhancing people-to-people exchanges, including tourism, cultural interactions, and educational cooperation, can foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of each other’s countries. This can contribute to building stronger economic and social ties between the Philippines and India.

Opportunities for regional cooperation in the Indo-Pacific

  • Economic Integration: Strengthening economic integration within the Indo-Pacific region is essential for creating a robust and interconnected economic ecosystem. The Philippines and India can play active roles in promoting and participating in initiatives such as the ASEAN Economic Community, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and other regional economic forums.
  • Connectivity and Infrastructure Development: Collaborative efforts in developing infrastructure, such as ports, roads, railways, and digital connectivity, can enhance regional connectivity and support economic growth. The Philippines and India can engage in infrastructure projects, joint investments, and partnerships to promote seamless connectivity within the region.
  • Maritime Security and Freedom of Navigation: Ensuring maritime security and upholding freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific is essential for trade, economic activities, and regional stability. Collaborative initiatives for maritime domain awareness, joint exercises, information-sharing mechanisms, and adherence to international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), can strengthen regional security and stability. The Philippines and India can actively participate in regional security frameworks, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), to address common maritime challenges.
  • Sustainable Development and Climate Change: Collaborative efforts in promoting sustainable development practices, sharing best practices in climate change adaptation and mitigation, and supporting initiatives for renewable energy and environmental conservation can contribute to the region’s long-term resilience. The Philippines and India can engage in knowledge sharing, capacity-building programs, and joint initiatives to address these challenges collectively.
  • People-to-People Exchanges and Cultural Cooperation: The Philippines and India can promote tourism, cultural exchanges, educational scholarships, and academic collaborations to deepen connections and promote mutual understanding among the diverse nations in the region.
  • Rules-based Order and Multilateralism: Upholding the principles of a rules-based order and inclusive multilateralism is crucial for regional stability and cooperation. The Philippines and India, as advocates for the rule of law, can actively engage in regional multilateral platforms such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to shape regional norms, promote dialogue, and address regional challenges collectively.


  • As the Philippines-India Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation convenes for its fifth iteration in New Delhi, the two nations look forward to meaningful exchanges that will set a firm course for a stronger partnership. Building upon their nearly 75 years of diplomatic ties and shared values as democratic Asian republics, the Philippines and India are poised to reinforce bilateral relations and leverage their common interests to navigate the challenges and opportunities of the post-pandemic era.

Also read:

ASEAN-India maritime exercise in South China Sea


Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch