Unity among ASEAN, BBN countries can transform the region into an era of shared prosperity: CM

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Sonowal interacts with envoys of ASEAN and BBN countries

HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Feb 5: Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that a mutual collaboration and reciprocity between the ASEAN and BBN countries can go a long way in auguring a friendly landscape prevailing in South Asia and South East Asian countries.

Interacting with the ambassadors and high commissioners of ASEAN and BBN countries on the sidelines of the 2nd ASEAN-India Youth Summit at Vivanta by Taj here Tuesday, Sonowal said that unity among ASEAN and BBN countries, can transform the region into an era of shared prosperity.

The chief minister said that the ASEAN and BBN countries need to meet frequently and work on a common agenda.

Stating that India and ASEAN has recently celebrated 25 years of dialogue partnership, he said entire region should work for growth-centric mutual cooperation. In the last 4 years, the Act East Policy resulted in much greater traction in the cooperation in all sectors, be it economic, socio-cultural or connectivity. He also said that India’s trade with ASEAN reached 81 billion dollars, which is 10 per cent of the total foreign trade of India. Major projects of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral highway have been completed and the Kaladan project has made considerable progress. The India-Myanmar-Thailand Motor Vehicle Agreement is also reaching consensus for finalisation.

Sonowal also stated that Northeast is the only part of India having physical contiguity with the ASEAN region. Considering the population mass of 800 million comprising of the Northeast, ASEAN, BBN, the entire region is a huge market which needs to be integrated on pattern of the European Union and the African Community.

Sonowal also conceded that the Act East Policy Affairs department in Assam the first of its kind in the entire country has been exclusively created in realizing the mandate given by Act East Policy to restore physical connectivity, movement of people and cross-cultural connectivity. He said that the total size of the ASEAN economy is 2.4 trillion Dollars. Integration of the entire region with the ASEAN has the potential of reaching out to the skies.

Under UDAN (International) Scheme, subsidized direct flights from Guwahati to Dhaka and Bangkok would be starting from the last part of March 2019. He also requested the ambassadors and high commissioners to create the requisite ecosystem for students, tourists, business community, wellness sector to utilise services of the airlines to promote trade, tourism and other exchanges. The chief minister informed that under UDAN scheme flight services would be started with other four cities namely Yangon, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Kathmandu.

Sonowal also said that Assam government is organising a big stakeholder meeting in Guwahati to discuss and create awareness on the opportunities made available by the two major historical agreements namely the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement and access of Chittagong and Mongla ports.

The chief minister further said that Assam government desires the establishment of consulates of all ASEAN and BBN countries in Guwahati, as we believe that would give the right fillip for stronger trade and people-to-people relations with these countries.

Commerce and industry minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, additional chief secretary Ravi Capoor, principal secretary to the chief minister, Sanjay Lohiya, envoys of Malayasia Dato Hidayat Bin Abdul Hamid, Vietnam Pham Sanh Chau, Singapore Lim Thuan Kuan, Brunei Bahri Jofrey, Indonesia Fientje Maritje Suebu, Bhutan Dasho Phub Tshering, Bangladesh Shah Mohammad Tanvir Monsur, Thailand Chutintorn Gongsakdi, and Myanmar Moe Kyaw Aung, were present on the occasion.

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