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3:21 pm - Monday March 18, 1118

India makes pitch for improved business and transport links with ASEAN

Agencies, Bangkok

India and Southeast Asia must step up efforts to boost bilateral trade and investment and improve road and sea transport links, Minister for State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman told the ten-nation ASEAN bloc here.

Addressing the four-day ASEAN-India Expo and Forum 2017, that concludes today, the Minister called for eliminating regulatory barriers to trade and investment “to achieve efficient and seamless movement of goods and services among the partner countries”. “Ïn spite of the progress made, we have a long way to go to realize the full potential of our trade and investment engagements.

I would reiterate India’s request to proceed with the review process of ASEAN-India Trade in Goods agreement, which would facilitate, elimination of technical barriers to trade,” she told government ministers from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ASEAN accounts for 10.85 pc of India’s total global trade and this has increased from US$39.09 billion in 2007-08 to US$71.69 billion in 2016-17.

Ms Sitharaman informed the forum that India has identified four initiatives in the health care and education sectors under its Project Development Fund to facilitate Indian investments in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam. Projects are also being considered in solar energy, and pharmaceuticals.

The Fund, established earlier this year with a corpus of Rs 500 crore, operated by EXIM bank, aims to help Indian companies establish a presence in emerging Southeast Asian export-oriented manufacturing centres linked up with global manufacturing chains through favourable trade regimes with China.

Ms Sitharaman also called for fast tracking efforts for “transforming the corridors of (India-Southeast Asian transport) connectivity into economic corridors”, referring to the “considerable progress” in the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway and the Kaladan Multimodal Project. A key step towards this will require finalisation of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Motor Vehicle Agreement for seamless movement of passenger, personal and cargo vehicles between India, Myanmar and Thailand, she pointed out.

Posted in: Featured, World

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