Asean-Northeast business summit opens

Imphal, April 7 (IANS) The first business summit of the Asean with India’s northeastern region opened here on Thursday with its focus on road connectivity, trade and tourism.

The three-day summit has been organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce. About 140 representatives, including from the Asean, are taking part.

Bangladesh Commerce Minister T. Ahmed, the only minister at the meet from abroad, said: “The summit is very important for Bangladesh because of the close proximity (with India’s northeast).

“Besides, exports to India touched $570 million in 2014-15 as against $500 million the previous financial year.”

Ahmed said Bangladesh could also export fish to Manipur.

He said the number of special economic zones in his country where foreigners can easily invest will go up from 30 to 100.

Manipur’s Commerce and Industries Minister Govindas Konthoujam said the northeast was located at the “trijunction of South, East and Southeast Asia.

“We expect to sign trade agreements with Bangladesh since three (other) northeastern states have already signed such agreements,” he said.

Navin Verma, Secretary in the Department of North Eastern Region (DONER), said that Rs.30,000 crore was earmarked to develop the sprawling region that borders Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China.

He said that the per capita income was more than the all-India figure in some northeastern states like Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.

He said road connectivity was being improved and with more flights to and from Imphal, besides better bus and train services in the region, tourism could develop in the northeast.

Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region Jitendra Singh was to be the chief guest at the event but could not turn up.

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