North East will pilot India’s collaboration with ASEAN: Jitendra Singh

NEW DELHI: Speaking at the Inaugural Session of India-ASEAN Business Summit, Union Minister of State (I/C) Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said that India will soon achieve the target of $5 trillion economy with the optimistic environment that has been created under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said that collaboration with ASEAN countries will play an important role in meeting the target of $5 trillion economy in India and the contribution of North-eastern states in it can also not be underestimated.

The India-ASEAN Business Summit is being organised on the theme ‘Today, Tomorrow, Together’ to strengthen trade & investment flows with ASEAN economies. The objective of the conference is to enhance the trade trajectory between India and ASEAN nations to new highs. The 10 ASEAN countries are – Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.

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Dr Singh said that for ease of doing business, there are three essentials – connectivity, communication, and ease of regulations. Citing the example of North East, the Minister said that connectivity in NE has been the main focus of the current Government, with Sikkim getting its first airport last year. He said that Itanagar will also soon get an airport.

He also spoke about train connectivity in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya. He further said that we are in the process of flagging-off the first train to Bangladesh from Agartala.

The Minister also mentioned the inland waterways developed by the government down the Brahmaputra river. While quoting the importance of waterways in the economy, the Minister said that the cost of cargo transportation by waterways is one-fourth of the cost by train.

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The Minister said that some unexpected breakthroughs were made under the Modi Government. He added that the Prime Minister has been reiterating the emphasis on closer and progressive collaboration with ASEAN countries and also focus on the development of North East India. This is important for business and trade development, the Minister added.

He said that the North East has unexplored potential which needs to be tapped and added, and that the new engine of the ASEAN collaboration has been spearheaded by the North-eastern region. He spoke about other initiatives in NE India such as theBrahmaputra Study Centre, affiliation of Barooah Cancer Institute with Tata Memorial Centre, and the setting up of APJ Abdul Kalam Study Centre at IIM-Shillong.

Singh lauded the Government’s decision to amend the age-old Indian Forest Act of 1927 and the exemption of bamboo, grown in the non-forest land, from the Act. He said the first Bamboo Industrial Park is being set up in Dima Hasao district of Assam and suggested that similar parks can be set up in Jammu & Kashmir. He noted that the first-ever citrus fruit park has been developed in Mizoram with Israeli collaboration, and a possibility of opening similar apple and strawberry food parks can be explored.

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Speaking about the tourism potential of North East, Singh said that tourism has grown manifold in recent years, especially with the increase in ‘homestay tourism’ in the region.

The Government will set up a Films and Training Institute of India (FTII) in Arunachal Pradesh, the Minister added.

Singh also said that many initiatives have been taken to promote start-ups in the North East, such as tax holiday, provision of exit period, and venture fund which is being offered by the DoNER Ministry. These initiatives have helped in curbing the youth exodus from the region, the Minister added.

Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador, Royal Thai Embassy and Chair of ASEAN region, Chutintorn Gongsakdi said opportunities available need to be identified to do business in India. He emphasised on connectivy, including air, land and sea.

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Gongsakdi further said that digital technology is an enabler of member economies and quoted the example of e-commerce. He added that we should aim at people-centred and inclusive economies with a focus on environmental, social and corporate governance.

Senior government officials from India and the ASEAN Nations are interacting with the business community of India and ASEAN for the promotion of bilateral trade and investments.

The first day of the Summit had sessions on Infrastructure and Tourism, IT/ITES, E-Commerce and Fintech, Education & Skill Development, Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals, and Agriculture & Food processing. On the second day of the summit, B2B meetings will be organised along with a session on ‘Focus Vietnam – Growing Trade & Commerce between India & Vietnam.’

More than 60 delegates from 10 ASEAN countries and more than 200 delegates from India are participating in the summit.

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The ID Staff

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