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Posted on Dec 06, 07:26PM | UNI
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today emphasised on the mutual benefits India and ASEAN had to offer at a multi-sectoral business seminar on 'Potential Opportunities for Boosting Indo-Vietnam Trade and Investment' at Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
"ASEAN has emerged a central pillar of India's 'Look East Policy', which has paid rich dividends to both sides.
India's vision of a close relationship with ASEAN is to forge a vast 'arc of prosperity' across Asia," Mr Gogoi said at the inaugural session, an official statement informed here.
Mr Gogoi said the ASEAN region is central to the emerging security and economic architecture in the region.
"The launch of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations between ASEAN and its six free-trade partners, including India, will culminate in the formation of the largest free trade zone that will bring enormous benefits, peace and prosperity to the peoples of our region," he said.
"India and ASEAN economies have withstood the global economic crisis relatively well. Our combined GDP of USUSD 3 trillion and population of 1.8 billion with a huge and young workforce constitute a formidable comparative advantage. India-ASEAN bilateral trade has grown by over ten times in the last decade, and stands at nearly USUSD 80 billion today," he added.
The Chief Minister said the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement in Goods already in force is contributing to the increased trade between India and ASEAN.
Stressing the special bonds between India and Vietnam, Mr Gogoi said, "India and Vietnam share close and traditional ties, which have their roots in the personal friendship between our founding fathers Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and President Ho Chi Minh." The Chief Minister said Assam shares a strong cultural and linguistic affinity with the ASEAN region in the form of the Tai-Ahom legacy.
"Historically, Assam has been a melting pot of various racial stocks, namely Indo-Tibeto-Burmese, Mongoloid, Austro-Asiatic, Aryan, Dravidian etc," he said.
Mr Gogoi emphasised that Assam has the unique locational advantage of being situated close to Myanmar, which is the gateway to ASEAN and said the border points at Moreh, Sutarkandi, Mankachar and Dawki have been opened for bilateral trade and commerce.
"Assam's internal waterways network connects to Bangladesh giving it access to the ports of Chittagong, Kolkata and Haldia.
Thus, both the land and water routes are available to investors for re-export to East and South East Asia. Assam's proximity to the SAARC countries of Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan would also enable foreign investors to take advantage of the expanding opportunities for regional integration through intra-regional trade under SAARC Preferential Trading Agreement (SAPTA)," he pointed out.
The Chief Minister also underscored the need for direct flights from ASEAN countries to LGB International Airport in Guwahati to increase the possibilities of enhancement in volume of trades, commerce, investment as well as tourism not only in Assam but in the entire North Eastern Region.
Mr Gogoi also urged the ASEAN countries, having their consular offices at Kolkata, to extend their visa offices to Guwahati to facilitate greater people-to-people contact as well as trade and commerce.
The seminar was attended, among others, by Thai Van Re, delegate of the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City and Director General of the Department of Planning and Investment, Ranjit Rae, Indian Ambassador to Vietnam, Jishnu Barua, Commissioner and Secretary to Chief Minister, Assam, Abhay Thakur, Consul General, Vo Tan Thanh, Director General, Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry - Ho Chi Minh City branch, Le Phuoc Vu, Chairman, Vietnam-India Business Forum and Chairman, Hoa Sen Group, Pradipta Mohapatra, Leader of the CII business delegation to Vietnam and representatives of Vietnamese and Indian business communities.