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'India-ASEAN free trade pact to help develop North East region'

Friday, 13 December 2013 - 3:20pm IST | Agency: PTI

The free trade agreement between India and ASEAN nations will help in developing the North East region, Union Minister Salman Khurshid said here today.

The FTA between India and ASEAN is expected to boost bilateral trade to USD 100 billion by 2015.

External Affairs Minister Khurshid also said the government was urging the ASEAN to make concentrated efforts to explore opportunities in the North East region.

The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc includes Singapore, Myanmar and Thailand.

He was speaking at a round-table discussion on 'Opportunity North East: Emerging International Connectivity' organised by industry body Ficci.

Besides, the Minister said the proposed trilateral highway between India, Myanmar and Thailand would provide a boost for the region as it would act as a connecting link within and outside India for North East.

The Great Asian Highway connecting SAARC and ASEAN, and branching out to connect Bhutan and Sikkim, is another proposed project, which when completed would allow both transportation of goods and movement of people freely in Asia, Khurshid said.

Ficci President Naina Lal Kidwai said enhanced connectivity would open up many opportunities for the North East region.

"We have to look at the North East potential to be like Switzerland surrounded by many countries, landlocked yet using that to its advantage. The North East must be allowed to benefit from its advantageous location with ASEAN thus bringing India into the ASEAN fold," she said.

Participating in the event, Rohit Kumar Singh, Joint Secretary at Road Transport and Highways Ministry, said there should be more co-ordination among various entities to address issues faced by the region.

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