Assam CM invites ASEAN countries to open consulates in Guwahati

Assam CM invites ASEAN countries to open consulates in Guwahati

President Joko Widodo and Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi gave a joint press conference in Jakarta, on May 30, 2018. (Bayu Prasetyo)

By Aditya E.S. Wicaksono

Guwahati, Assam, July 16 (ANTARA News) - The government of Assam, a state in Northeast India, has invited ASEAN member countries to set up their consulate offices in the state`s capital Guwahati, for liaising with the state government and exploring business possibilities.

"We are interested to welcome ASEAN countries to set up their consulates here," Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal, said to a group of ASEAN journalists during an India-ASEAN media exchange program in Guwahati on Monday.

The state of Assam is currently preparing itself as a gateway to Southeast Asia and ASEAN nations.

Since Southeast Asia has become a major trade destination for Indian companies, Assam has the potential to emerge as India`s corridor to the region.

Its capital, Guwahati, is also one of the fastest growing regions in the South Asian country.

Sonowal also conveyed that the Assam Government is seeking to improve its connectivity, especially in establishing air routes, with Southeast Asian nations.

The neighboring Bhutan in February this year became the second country after Bangladesh to open a consulate in Guwahati.

Meanwhile, Additional Chief Secretary of State Government of Assam, Ravi Capoor, stated that the hilly, fertile, lush, and green Assam has lot of similarities with Southeast Asia, such as its foods, culture, arts, traditional clothes, and people.

"We are basically part of Southeast Asia," Capoor added.

The full implementation of the FTA in goods between India and ASEAN will help boost trade between the two regions.

However, connectivity and infrastructures have become major challenges to further push trade ties between India and the Southeast Asian nations.

"We have created hurdles among ourselves. We have to open up.... We also need to do a lot of trade," Capoor remarked.

He also mentioned that India will be a huge market for Southeast Asian products.

The strength of ASEAN countries is particularly in food processing. "These are industries we have to work together," he noted.

Establishing Assam as a hub in Northeast India would be favorable for India`s efforts in achieving balanced and fast-paced growth of its Northeastern region as Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiated in the Act East Policy.

The Act East Policy requires increased people-to-people contact, trade ties, and other relations with countries on India`s east, particularly ASEAN countries.

Meanwhile, Indonesia, as an ASEAN member country, holds significance for the Indian economy, as it is the biggest trading partner in the ASEAN. India has become an export destination country for Indonesian palm oil and the second-largest coal importer for India.

With regard to investment, India is also important for Indonesia. India`s investments rose significantly in 2017, more than fivefold from $55 million a year earlier to $286.6 million.

Based on data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2017, the Indonesia-India trade balance increased 28.7 percent, with total exports of $14.08 billion and imports at $4.05 billion.
(T.A059/A/KR-BSR/F001) 16-07-2018 23:54:18