GUWAHATI, Feb 5 - Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said a mutual collaboration and reciprocity between the ASEAN and BBN countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal) 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 today, Sonowal said that unity among ASEAN and BBN countries can transform the region into an era of shared prosperity.
He also said that the ASEAN and BBN countries need to meet frequently and work on a common agenda. Stating that India and ASEAN have recently celebrated 25 years of dialogue partnership the entire region should work for growth-centric mutual cooperation.
In the last four years, the Act East Policy has 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 has 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 finalization, he said.
Sonowal also stated that the North East is the only part of India having physical contiguity with the ASEAN region. Considering the population mass of 800 million comprising the North East, ASEAN and BBN, the entire region is a huge market, which needs to be integrated on the pattern of the European Union and the African community.
He also stated 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 informed that under the UDAN scheme, flight services would be started with other four cities – Yangon, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Kathmandu.
“The Government of Assam is organizing a big stakeholder meeting in Guwahati to discuss and create awareness on the opportunities made available by the two major historical agreements – the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement and access of Chittagong and Mongla ports. The government desires the establishment of consulates of all ASEAN and BBN countries in Guwahati, as we believe it would give the right fillip for stronger trade and people-to-people relations with these countries,” the Chief Minister said.
Commerce and Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, Additional Chief Secretary Ravi Capoor, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Sanjay Lohiya, envoys of Malaysia 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.