The Telegraph
Friday , May 9 , 2014
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US charts corridor course

Fatema Z. Sumar in Calcutta on Thursday. Picture by Kishor Roy Chowdhury

Calcutta, May 8: The US has envisaged a web of trade relationships connecting the countries of central Asia, South Asia (including India) and Southeast Asia — a kind of trade corridor, buttressed by infrastructure connectivity and appropriate regulations to facilitate trade.

Fatema Z. Sumar, deputy assistant secretary of the bureau of south and central Asian affairs, US department of state, considers this as an Indian-Pacific economic corridor as this will bring the three regions closer to the advanced countries on the Pacific Ocean such as Australia, Japan and the US.

“Like India’s Look East policy, the US envisioned an Indo-Pacific economic corridor that will help reach south and Southeast Asia, where Indian and Pacific Oceans converge, and where trade has thrived for centuries,” Sumar said.

“Fostering physical infrastructure, regulatory trade architecture and human connectivity will create bridge all the way from Central Asia, Southeast Asia via South Asia. We in the US have a vested interest in a more stable and prosperous South Asia,” she added.

She was speaking at a session organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the US Consulate in Calcutta.

According to Sumar, greater connectivity, energy security and open market were important to achieve the objective of a secure and prosperous Asian continent.

However, there are several challenges that include a diverse geographical terrain, barriers to energy trading and limited co-operation among trade facilitation agencies.

She said the US would be interested to see the development of airports, sea ports, land ports and roads in the region.

“Energy trade alone holds enormous potential. India’s rail expansion plans have got the US firms interested. The India-Myanmar-Thailand highway, slated to open in 2015, creates an additional opportunity to increase trade, investment and people-to-people connect. The US also sees great complimentarity in India’s engagements with the Asean ( Association of Southeast Asian Nations). We are deeply encouraged,” she said.