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Boosting trade and connectivity with ASEAN - by road and sea

Posted on Nov 19, 10:55AM | IANS

A car rally from Jakarta to Delhi and an Indian Navy ship touching ports of the 10-member ASEAN countries are part of India's move to demonstrate connectivity and trade with this major regional bloc. India's trade with the bloc currently stands at USD 79 billion.

As Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attends the 10th ASEAN-India summit in this pretty Cambodian capital, preparations are in full swing for the car rally that kicks off in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on Nov 26. The rally will traverse through ASEAN countries Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar and enter India from Moreh in Imphal.

The rally will, after traversing 8,000 km, end in Delhi on Dec 20 to mark the commemorative event being held in New Delhi Dec 20-21 to mark the 20th anniversary of India's relationship with the bloc and the 10th anniversary of ASEAN-India summit-level partnership.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and leaders of all the 11 ASEAN countries meet in New Delhi on Dec 20.

Along the route, at stops, cultural and business events are planned to showcase trading opportunities, said an official.

The rally will pass through Guwahati on Dec 17, when economic ministers of ASEAN countries are meeting - in a first such meeting in the principal business city in northeastern India. The flagdown of the rally in Guwahati and the rally entering Moreh in Manipur, on the border with Myanmar, is part of India's move to increase connectivity with the northeast.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said that the economic ministers are meeting on in the Assam capital was part India's move to "release the robust potential of northeast India, and integrating it with the vibrant economic region of the Asean".

The link between northeast India and the Asean will help to expand connectivity and provide access to ports and trading through sea routes,"" Sharma said.

INS Sudarshini, a training ship of the Indian Navy, embarked Sep 15 this year on seven-month expedition to most of the modern and ancient ports in nine ASEAN countries. The expedition is to end on March 26, 2013.

The sailing of the Indian naval ship and the car rally are to demonstrate India's keenness to revive its historical road and maritime links with ASEAN nations.

(Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at ranjana.n@ians.in)