Chief Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma said that North East can play a pivotal role in strengthening Indo-ASEAN and Indo-BBN relationship not only as a means of being gateway to the South East Asian Nations but as a spring board to facilitate bilateral trades and commerce with these countries.
Speaking as the chief guest in the 2nd North East India buyer-seller meet organised by Indian Chamber of Commerce in association with the Ministry of External Affairs, Govt of India at NEDFi House here today, Chief Minister Dr. Sarma said that since North East is located in the middle of the fastest emerging nations of South East Asia, the region has the potential to act as the spring board for the emergence of trade and commerce with these nations. He also said that the long international borders that the region shares with South East Asian and BBN countries including China gives it a unique geographical advantage for being a catalyst for the development of trade and commerce with these countries.
Presenting Assam before the international delegates in the meeting, Chief Minister Dr. Sarma said that Assam is the largest economy in the North Eastern region. The state has the reputation of being an industrial state because of its prolific tea, oil, coal and tourism industry. Assam is one of the biodiversity hot spots of the country with its 312 notified reserve forests, five national parks and 20 wild life sanctuaries. Taking in to consideration of its well-established petro-chemical industry, the state can take the lead in producing green plastics which are in huge demand in developed markets. He also said that Assam is a home to some of the rarest wild life species in the world along with rich flora and fauna which offer immense scope for wild life tourism and investment.
The Chief Minister also said that the organic products of the state such as ginger, lemon, bhut jolokia, red rice, black rice, joha, pineapple, orange, jackfruit, banana etc have huge export potential.
Dr. Sarma said that the improved connectivity between India and South East Asian nations has benefitted North eastern region greatly. He said that the bilateral and multilateral connectivity initiatives like the Trilateral Highway that goes from India to Thailand via Myanmar has given rise to a new hope. He also said that the survey and planning work on the Imphal-Moreh Railway line is underway. The setting up of North East Economic corridor connecting markets in Bangladesh and the ASEAN region is also being actively contemplated to give a fillip to trade and commerce. Pointing at the illegal movement of good from across the border, Dr. Sarma advocated for reworking on the custom tariff system for the mutual development of all.
Thanking ICC and Union Ministry for External Affairs for organising the meet, the Chief Minister said that event will help in making NE a vibrant economy which would also be helpful in facilitating collective development of the region. The meet which was organised with focussed countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Thailand and Laos would also help in creating an enabling environment for the stake holders to showcase their inherent strength before the buyers. The meet will also be a way forward towards reviving the age old ties between North East and its neighbours.
Union Minister of State for External Affairs Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Member NEC A.K. Gogoi also spoke during the inaugural ceremony of the meet.