Sonowal calls for collaboration between ASEAN-BBN nations

Guwahati, Feb 5 (PTI) Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal Tuesday said a mutual collaboration between the ASEAN and BBN countries can go a long way in auguring a friendly landscape prevailing in South and South East Asian countries.
Interacting with the ambassadors and high commissioners of ASEAN and BBN countries on the sidelines of the 2nd ASEAN-India Youth Summit here, Sonowal said unity among ASEAN and BBN countries can transform the region into an era of shared prosperity.
The ASEAN and BBN countries need to meet frequently and work on a common agenda, he said.
Stating that India and ASEAN have recently celebrated 25 years of dialogue partnership, Sonowal said the entire region should work for growth-centric mutual cooperation.
In the last four years, the Act East Policy resulted in much greater traction in the cooperation in all sectors — economic, socio-cultural or connectivity, he said.
India’s trade with Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) reached 81 billion Dollars which is 10 per cent of the total foreign trade of India.
Major projects of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral highway have been completed and the Kaladan project connecting Kolkata with Sittwe seaport in Rakhine state of Myanmar by sea has made considerable progress, he said.
The region comprising the Northeast, the ASEAN and the BBN with a population of around 800 million is a huge market which needs to be integrated on pattern of the European Union and the African Community, he said.
Stating the total size of the ASEAN economy is 2.4 trillion Dollars, the chief minister said integration of the entire region with the ASEAN has the potential of reaching out to the skies.
Under UDAN (International) Scheme, subsidized direct flights from Guwahati to Dhaka and Bangkok would be starting from the last part of March, while flight services would also start with Yangon, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Kathmandu.
Sonowal requested the ambassadors and high commissioners to create the requisite ecosystem for students, tourists, business community, wellness sector to utilize services of the airlines to promote trade, tourism and other exchanges.
He said Assam government would be organizing a meeting in Guwahati to discuss and create awareness on the opportunities made available by the two major historical agreements – BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement and access of Chittagong and Mongla ports.
Sonowal emphasised on establishment of Consulates of all ASEAN and BBN countries in Guwahati.
Envoys of Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Thailand and Myanmar were present on the occasion.
Delivering the valedictory speech at the 2nd ASEAN-India Youth Summit here, Assam Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi advocated for connectivity such as airway, roadway, railway, waterway and i-way which hold the key in furthering India’s relations with the South East Asian region.
Mukhi said the development of Mainland India- Bangladesh-North East India corridors stating the development of such corridors Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata, Silchar-Dhaka- Kolkata and Shillong-Dhaka-Kolkata hold tremendous importance.
On waterways, the governor said the Barak river has been dredged to make it navigable to start trade activities between India and Bangladesh as trade between the two nations through Chittagong Port will usher in a new paradigm of development.
He said steps should be taken to improve railway connectivity with Bangladesh and digital connectivity for economic progress of the region.