Vice President Hamid Ansari arrived on Thursday leading an Indian delegation to the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit being held amid dramatic changes in Europe following Britain’s exit from the EU and a global economic slowdown.
The two-day Summit will be held in Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia from Friday and the theme for the meeting is “20 Years of ASEM:Partnership for the Future through Connectivity”.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, President of the European Council Donald Tusk, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini are expected to attend the summit.
The summit comes weeks after Britain voted 48-52 per cent in favour of a British exit, or Brexit, from the EU in a historic referendum on June 23.
After the declaration of the Brexit, the pound fell to its lowest level since 1985 and David Cameron resigned as the Prime Minister of Britain. The Brexit victory sent economic shockwaves through global markets and UK stocks had their worst drop since the financial crisis.
Last month, a worried World Bank slashed its growth forecast for the global economy, saying advanced economies are rebounding more slowly than expected and low commodity prices continue to hurt other countries.
The Bank said that the global economy should grow at just 2.4 per cent this year, the same lethargic pace of 2015 and much slower than the 2.9 per cent it predicted in January.
According to the World Trade Organisation statistics, global trade growth has slowed significantly since 2008, from an average of over 7 per cent per annum between 1990 and 2008, to less than 3 per cent between 2009 and 2015.
The ASEM summit will also be the first major multilateral diplomatic gathering since the July 12 ruling by a UN-backed tribunal that struck down China’s claims of “historical rights” in the strategic South China Sea.
Ahead of the summit, Mongolian Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg said the 20th anniversary of the ASEM is a fitting opportunity to reflect both on its past, present and future as well as on the evolving connectivity between Asia and Europe, the world’s two ancient cradles of civilisations that have contributed greatly to humanity’s development and prosperity.
ASEM’s coming into being was a natural response to the dramatic changes in the global political and economic landscape in the mid-1990s following the end of the Cold War, at a time when Asia was emerging as a world economic powerhouse.