NE can play pivotal role in strengthening ties with ASEAN, BBN: Himanta
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma addresses second North East India buyer-seller meet.

Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday said the North-eastern region can play a pivotal role in strengthening India’s ties with several regional groupings of South Asia as a springboard to facilitate bilateral trades with those countries.

The region is located in the middle of the fastest emerging nations of South East Asia and the long international borders that it shares with these nations, BBN (Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal) countries and China gives it a unique geographical advantage, he said.

North East can play a pivotal role in strengthening Indo-ASEAN and Indo-BBN relationship not only as a gateway to the South East Asian nations but as a springboard to facilitate bilateral trades and commerce with these countries, Sarma said.

The chief minister was addressing the Second North East India buyer-seller meet organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce in association with the Ministry of External Affairs.

Sarma said that Assam, the largest economy in the North Eastern region, 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 wildlife sanctuaries that can offer immense scope for wildlife tourism and investment, he said.

Considering the well-established petrochemical industry in the state, it can take the lead in producing green plastics which are in huge demand in developed markets, Sarma said.

Organic products of the state such as ginger, lemon, bhut jolokia’ chilli, red rice, black rice, pineapple, orange, jackfruit and banana have huge export potential, he said.

Improved connectivity between India and South East Asian nations has benefited the North Eastern region greatly and the bilateral and multilateral connectivity initiatives like the Trilateral Highway that goes from India to Thailand via Myanmar have given rise to new hope, the CM said.

The setting up of the 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, he said.

A total of 300 buyers and sellers participated in the meet with 26 sectoral participation which includes handloom and handicrafts, agri-horti, floriculture, medicinal plants, manufacturing, textile and agriculture, food processing, cement, mines and minerals, packaging, banking and finance and tourism.

A Mini-Expo was also held, to showcase the products and services.

The event provided a platform for one-to-one interaction between the entrepreneurs of North-East India and from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Thailand and Laos.

The event also discussed the opportunities for trade and investment between North-East India and the four focused countries.

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