Connectivity between ASEAN, India can transform region

July 31, 2013 11:22 am 

NEW DELHI, July 31 — Physical connectivity between Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and India through Assam can transform the economic landscape of the region, Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted Singapore Foreign Minister as saying on Tuesday.

Pitching for closer economic ties between ASEAN and India, K Shanmugam said the missing link in the economic landscape between the two sides was greater physical connectivity.

"The missing link in our economic landscape is really the need for linkages for grater land and sea connectivity between ASEAN and India that will completely transform and facilitate the interaction and enhance business opportunities both ways," Shanmugam said.

"If we can physically connect ASEAN with India through Assam …. that physical connectivity will transform the landscape," he said while delivering the inaugural lecture of the newly-established ASEAN-India Center here.

"We encourage India to step up engagement of ASEAN in fulfillment of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's look-east policy," the minister said.

"India and ASEAN had a commemorative summit in December 2012, the outcomes were good, emphasized the importance of the relationship and agreed on the elevation of the relationship to a strategic partnership and the leaders endorsed the ASEAN-India vision statement," Shanmugam said.

The Foreign Minister also spoke of robust economic partnership that Singapore shares with India.

India-Singapore trade grew from about US$ 9 billion from 2004 before they signed the FTA (free trade agreement) to US$ 24 billion last year, he pointed out.

Indian investment in Singapore which was something under US$ 500 million in 2004 expanded to something under US$ 20 billion last year.

India's trade with rest of ASEAN has progressed well.

Trade has increased by 40 percent to US$ 75 billion surpassing the 2012 trade target of 2012.

The minister also welcomed the conclusion of ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement (AIFTA) services and investment negotiations which is to be signed next month.(PNA/Bernama)

JBP/JNC

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