India-Central Asia Relations - January 2017

President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan paid a five day visit to India from 14th to 18th December, 2016. This was his sixth visit to India. Tajikistan is one of the three countries out of the five in Central Asia with which India has enhanced its engagement to strategic partnership level. President Rahmon extended support to India's membership of UN Security Council and also to its forthcoming membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organization. He warmly welcomed initiatives taken by India with respect to fast-tracking the operationalisation of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) through Iran to Central Asia and Russia, and development of Chabahar port and its hinterland to connect it to Afghanistan and Central Asia. Security and defence cooperation is a significant area of bilateral cooperation. At the request of Tajikistan, India has upgraded and refurbished the air base at Ayni in Tajikistan. Bilateral trade between the two countries is in the range of US$ 55-60 million which is much below potential. Prime Minister Modi said that Tajikistan is India's valued friend and strategic partner in Asia. He asserted that both countries face multiple security challenges in their extended neighborhood and have decided to strengthen cooperation for addressing the issue of terrorism and radicalism.

Almazbek Atambayev, President of Kyrgyzstan paid a four day State visit to India from 18th to 21st December, 2016. It was the first visit to India by Atambayev after taking over as President of Kyrgyzstan in 2011 and the first visit by a Kyrgyz President to India in 13 years. Trade and economic relations between India and Kyrgyzstan are at an uninspiring level of below US$ 30 million. Trade is weighted heavily in India's favour. Connectivity is a formidable obstacle in expanding bilateral trade as Pakistan does not permit people and goods to travel to and from Kyrgyzstan through its territory. During President Atambayev's visit, areas of fight against terrorism and extremism, defence cooperation and enhancing trade and economic exchanges received particular attention. President Atambayev extended support to India's membership of UN Security Council as well as to its imminent membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Six Agreements including collaboration in tourism, agriculture and food industry, youth development, training of diplomats, National Cadet Corps, and broadcasting and exchange of audiovisual programmes were signed. These will further strengthen official and people-to-people linkages between the two countries.

Visits by Presidents Rahmon and Atambayev came in the wake of visit by PM Modi to all 5 Central Asian States including Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in July, 2015.

India and Kazakhstan signed a Protocol to amend the existing "Double Taxation Avoidance Convention" for "avoidance of double taxation and for prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income." The treaty allows information received from Kazakhstan for tax purposes to be shared with other law enforcement agencies with authorization of the competent authority of Kazakhstan and vice versa.

Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir stated that she wants a trade corridor between South Asia and Central Asia involving both Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. This will supplement the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. This would help to eradicate chronic poverty in the State.

 

 January 28, 2017

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About the Author

Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar belongs to the Indian Foreign Service and has acquitted his responsibilities in the diplomatic service for 34 years. He was Ambassador of India to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia and has worked in senior diplomatic positions in Indian Embassies/Missions in Washington DC, Brussels, Moscow, Geneva, Tehran, Dhaka and Bangkok and also at Headquarters in India. He negotiated for India in the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations and in negotiations for India-EU, India-ASEAN and India-Thailand Free Trade Agreements.

He contributed significantly to strengthening strategic ties and promoting cultural cooperation between India and USA, EU, Russia and other countries.Ambassador Sajjanhar worked as head of National Foundation for Communal Harmony to promote amity and understanding between different religions, faiths and beliefs. Ambassador Sajjanhar has been decorated by Governments of Kazakhstan and Latvia with their National Awards and by Universal Peace Federation with Title of ''Ambassador of Peace.'' Currently Ambassador Sajjanhar is President of Institute of Global Studies, New Delhi. He writes, travels and speaks extensively on issues relating to international relations, foreign policy and themes of contemporary relevance and significance. He appears widely on TV panel discussions. Ambassador Sajjanhar is interested in reading, music and travelling. His wife Madhu is an economist and an educationist. They have a son and a daughter both of who are accomplished singers. Their son passed out of Yale University and their daughter is pursuing her PhD at University of Minnesota.