Closer ties with Southeast Asia could boost Indian economy — Pranab Mukherjee

NEW DELHI, Oct 7 (KUNA) — India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Sunday that India could emerge as one of the world’s fastest growing economies if New Delhi could strengthen its relations with Southeast Asian countries.

“The Look East policy is a strategic shift in India’s vision of the world and we genuinely believe the country could emerge as one of the fastest growing economies in the world if we can reach out to our civiliazational Asian neighbors,” said the minister at a forum titled “India’s Look East Policy: Challenges for Sub-Regional Cooperation.” “We need to cement connectivity with the Asian neighbors in the region who, by emerging as regional economic powerhouses, also presented us with a model worthy of emulation,” he said.

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As India’s Northeastern states were geographically close Southeast Asia, the region could become the gateway to the countries there, he noted.
“India is aware of the geo-economic potential of the northeastern region as a gateway to East and Southeast Asia. By gradually integrating this region through cross-border market access, the northeastern region could become the bridge between the Indian economy and what is beyond doubt the fastest growing region in the world,” said Mukherjee.
He said the government was contemplating direct air links between Southeast Asian cities with India’s Northeastern region, besides having telecommunication networking through optical fiber links.
“Information and communication technology revolutions have virtually shrunk the globe, and geography is no longer a buffer,” he said.
Organized by the Public Diplomacy division of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, the event was aimed at highlighting the country’s Look East policy