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Northeast key to South East Asia ties: Himanta Biswa Sarma

CM says Assam provides a great opportunity for economic growth because of its strategic location and has immense potential in tourism sector
Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Himanta Biswa Sarma.
File Photo

Umanand Jaiswal   |   Guwahati   |   Published 30.05.22, 02:49 AM

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said his state and the Northeast as a whole could be used as a launch pad for “intensifying” mutual cooperation with countries belonging to South East Asia.

He said this while addressing the third edition of the Asian Confluence River Conclave 2022 Nadi (Natural Allies in Development & Interdependence) here, basing his observation on India sharing ancient civilisational linkages with the countries belonging to East and South East Asia.

“These links have passed through Assam and the Northeast. The ties between Northeast and the Asean bloc are historical, cultural, social and economic. Taking this into consideration, Assam and the Northeast can be used as a launch pad for intensifying mutual cooperation,” Sarma said.

Underscoring some vital areas of Assam’s economy where collaboration for shared growth and prosperity can be pursued, Sarma said Assam was the largest economy in the Northeast. “Due to its proximity” with rest of India and “availability” of quality infrastructure, it offered the “best opportunities and environment” for industrial growth.

The two-day Nadi 3 conclave was inaugurated by Union external affairs minister S. Jaishankar in the presence of his Bangladesh counterpart A.K. Abdul Momen, high commissioner of Singapore to India Simon Wong Wie Kuen, ambassador of Cambodia to India Ung Sean, besides a host of delegates.

The conclave, organised by the Shillong-based think tank Asian Confluence in association with the Union external affairs ministry and the state’s Act East Policy Affairs department, aims to set an agenda for a collective vision of sub-regional cooperation in the Bay of Bengal Region and in South East Asia.

Assam provides a great opportunity for economic growth because of its strategic location and has immense potential in tourism sector, including wildlife tourism, tea tourism and river tourism, Sarma said.

“Our government is taking necessary steps in this direction,” he said while drawing the attention of the delegates top Assam being among the top three states in the country in terms of attracting funding for externally aided projects, a “testimony to the immense potential” the state holds.

Sarma said Nadi 3 holds importance for Assam for revitalising the riverine connectivity to facilitate faster economic growth in the region, adding that Jaishankar’s presence in the inaugural programmes showed the government’s commitment towards collaborative approach for regional development.

He later tweeted: “North East, including Assam, not only provides the only land link between India and ASEAN region, but also acts as a cultural & civilisational bridge. We share the vision of Adarniya PM Shri @narendramodiji that North East is the sunrise area of Indian economy.”

Assam industries minister Chandra Mohan Patowary  said the Northeast states, and the immediate eastern neighbours -- Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and China  -- and extended neighbours in the Bay of Bengal make up a geographically compact region connecting South and South East Asia.

“But what used to be barriers impeding connectivity and human exchange in the past today stand out as windows of opportunity in the current scenario. These windows of opportunities are the rivers as this conclave would essentially draft a future action plan for connectivity and development using the network of rivers,” Patowary said.

Later, external affairs minister Jaishankar attended an interactive session with the faculty members, scholars and students of IIT Guwahati.  Sarma accompanied him.

Jaishankar tweeted: “Was wonderful interacting with students at @IITGuwahati along with Chief Minister @himantabiswa. Experience met energy. Hopefully, both benefited.”

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