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An Indian investor is planning to plant one million agarwood trees in Laos by 2014, along with processing factories to extract the oil for export to the Middle East and Japan.

Managing Director of the Lao Agar International Development Company, Mr Habib Mohammed Chowdhury, said on Friday that the market for agarwood products was very large in Arab countries, Taiwan , Japan , Singapore , Thailand and Brunei .

“But I intend to supply only the Middle Eastern and Japanese markets because I don’t have enough raw materials to supply others,” he said.

“I need lots of agarwood. At present supply does not come close to meeting demand. Even now I can’t achieve my targets.”

Mr Habib Mohammed said that existing agarwood plantations in Laos were not enough to supply his two factories in Vientiane and Xaysomboun district of Vientiane province, and he was having to import more from Malaysia and Indonesia.

Now he plans to expand plantations and significantly boost exports. On June 1 he will plant 100,000 trees to mark Arbor Day and then increase the number of plantations every year.

The Lao Agar International Development Company was the first multinational company in Laos and was incorporated in 1998. It is the largest company operating in the agarwood business in Southeast Asia .

Mr Habib Mohammed owns agarwood plantations in Laos and Malaysia . In Laos , he has planted 100,000 trees so far in Borikhamxay province and Xaysomboun, excluding those given to villagers for cultivation.

He began exporting oil from Laos in 2001. The sale price of agarwood ranges from 960,000 kip (US$100) to 96 million kip (US$10,000) per kg, depending on the quality after seven years of growth.

Mr Habib Mohammed’s family is engaged in the same business. “When I was young, my father imported agarwood from Malaysia , Thailand and Singapore . He always said that the agarwood in Laos was very good quality.”

He came to Laos in 1998 and decided to invest in agarwood.

“I have a deep love in my heart for Acquilaria trees. I’m afraid that if people cut down these trees without replanting, one day they will disappear from the world,” he said.

“I have a vision for Laos in 2012, with 100,000 hectares of land under agarwood cultivation. This would bring in good export income for the country and provide many employment opportunities for local people.”

Mr Habib Mohammed said the Lao government had always supported him and helped him with any problems the company encountered.

The species is native to northern India , Laos , Cambodia , Malaysia , Indonesia and Vietnam and is the world’s most expensive wood.

It is valued in many cultures for its distinctive fragrance, and used extensively in incense and perfumes. The wood is formed as a result of the tree’s immune response to fungal infection. This resinous material is produced by tropical rainforest trees and has been used for centuries as incense and in traditional medicine.

It is an extremely important component in traditional Japanese incense ceremonies, and Arab people use it as a fragrance on a daily basis. They burn it when they have a special function such as a festival or wedding, when receiving guests, and give it to each other as a gift.

By Vientiane Times

(Latest Update May 28, 2007)


ASEAN – INDIA Business Prospects

The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) comprises of Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam. India forms a strategic relationship with the ASEAN owing to India’s own march towards an economic liberalization during the 1990s which culminated in the formulation of ‘Look East Policy’. The Look East Policy has today matured into a dynamic and action oriented ‘Act-East Policy’ as enunciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 12th ASEAN India Summit and the 9th East Asia Summit held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, in November, 2014.

There is significant potential for expanding mutually beneficial economic relations between ASEAN and India. Economic cooperation and integration have become an important focus on recent development discourse as ASEAN and India have experienced economic growth and achieved significant improvements in income equality, poverty alleviation and other socio-economic goals. Also due to ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement (AIFTA), total trade between ASEAN and India has significantly increased. The bilateral trade between India and ASEAN totaled US$80 billion in 2014, up ten billion from 2012 and increasing by an average annual rate of 23 percent over the past decade. A large portion of India and ASEAN’s surging economic and political relationship can be accredited to the Act East Policy and the rising business optimism within the ASEAN.

India-ASEAN trade and investment relations have been growing steadily, with ASEAN being India’s fourth largest trading partner. The annual trade between India and ASEAN stood at approximately US$ 76.53 billion in 2014-15 though it declined to US$ 65.04 billion in 2015-16 essentially due to declining commodity prices amidst a general slowing down of the global economy. Investment flows are also substantial both ways, with ASEAN accounting for approximately 12.5% of investment flows into India since 2000. FDI inflows into India from ASEAN between April 2000 to May 2016 was about US$49.40 billion, while FDI outflows from India to ASEAN countries, from April 2007 to March 2015 was about US$38.672 billion. The ASEAN-India Free Trade Area has been completed with the entering into force of the ASEAN-India Agreements on Trade in Service and Investments on 1 July 2015. ASEAN and India have been also working on enhancing private sector engagement. ASEAN India-Business Council (AIBC) was set up in March 2003 in Kuala Lumpur as a forum to bring key private sector players from India and the ASEAN countries on a single platform for business networking and sharing of ideas.

India has been cooperating with ASEAN by way of implementation of various projects in the fields of Agriculture, Science & Technology, Space, Environment & Climate Change, Human Resource Development, Capacity Building, New and Renewable Energy, Tourism, People-to-People contacts and Connectivity etc. Services trade between India- ASEAN also has been seen as a good potential area to expand. From ASEAN, the Philippines has witnessed a steep rise in services trade, particularly in the IT-BPO services. Several Indian companies have opened offices at Manila in the last few years

Another feature of the Indian trade is the extremely large share of computer and information services. Exports of information technology services can be broadly broken into three categories: (1) software services; (2) IT-enabled services (ITES, a type of business process outsourcing featuring such services as call centers and medical record processing); and (3) R&D services, such as for product development. At present software services is the largest, but the second category of IT-enabled services is quickly growing. On account of the language barrier and other factors, Indian companies have traditionally engaged in business transactions mainly with Western companies, but recently, taking advantage of swelling demand, they are doing more business with Japan, China, and other East Asian countries. It is possible for India’s firms to join in the ASEAN production networks by using computer and information services to develop deeper ties with this region. Another recent trend not limited to India is for trade in medical services to expand. This trade is occurring not just because medical costs are low in some countries but also because efforts have been invested in fostering skilled and experienced doctors

India is seeking to diversify its conventional energy sources and significantly increase exploration of oil and gas in its territory. ASEAN countries, viz. Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, possess enough expertise in this area, which can provide considerable scope for energy cooperation. The energy sector companies from ASEAN and India could cooperate with each other in oil and gas exploration and in down-stream processing activities. As an example, India’s national oil company is already involved in a joint venture to explore oil and natural gas in Vietnam. Thus, the two countries are already cooperating in the energy sector, but there is definitely scope for further strengthening it. Cooperation in the civilian nuclear power sector for energy is also feasible and desirable. Mineral exploration and processing is another area that could be actively explored by India and some countries in ASEAN. There is a massive potential of economic viability in this area as most of the nation are rich in natural resources.

ASEAN-India business collaboration has obvious advantages for India because it can import products from ASEAN more cheaply than before. Furthermore, India can diversify trade ties and enlarge its export market, thereby reducing its dependence on the EU and the US as delivery markets. As ASEAN started engaging in international trade earlier than India, they are much more integrated into the world economy. India has enhanced its activities toward more integration and engagement in global trade and ASEAN could serve as a multiplying force for India to catch up. Thus the government, industry elites and media on both sides need to make more effort to enhance and increase the pace and scope of this dynamic business relationship. An essential element is prospering ahead and sustaining the economic association of India-ASEAN is to build trust and confidence in each other and set up frameworks that see to the smooth conduction of trade and business activities.



Cultural and Educational Exchange between South-East Asia and North-East India

Southeast Asia and India share an intrinsic connection that dates back to centuries. The shared heritage between India and the South-east Asian region ranging from Borobudor in Indonesia to Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious monument in Cambodia, andthe Thai epic Ramakien based on the Ramayana etc are well known and documented.

 Performance of Lao Traditional Music and Dance at the Gala Dinner for ICC India Investrade Delegates at Vientiane, Lao PDR

There is an immense shared cultural and traditional heritage especially between the Northeastern part of India and the Southeast Nations that needs to be explored in order to strengthen the linkages between the two geographical regions. The common physical features, similarities in art and dance forms, social structure, eating habits, weaving motifs, hunting practices and cultural practices put the Northeast region in a favorablejuxtaposition with the Southeast Asian nations.

Bihu Dance performance for the Delegates from Lao PDR for the 1st Laos – Northeast India Business Forum at Guwahati, Assam, India

To accomplish India’s ambitious ‘ACT EAST POLICY, apart from trade ties, cultural and educational tie needs to be synchronized with the SoutheastAsian nations. Socio-cultural cooperation and promotion of greater people-to-people interaction through increasing exchanges in culture, education, youth, sports, science and technology, human resource development and scholarly exchanges are areas which would lead to integration. Dissemination of knowledge about the civilization links between the two regions is a way forward.

International Day of Yoga celebrated at That Luang Temple, Vientiane, Lao PDR

By educating people about our common cultural heritage we can unify and help form close economic collaboration between Northeast India and Southeast Asian nations. Many communities in Northeast India traces their origin south of the Yarlung Zangbo, source of the Brahmaputra River, including the Tai-Ahoms or Ahoms, an offspring of the Tai people who are called Shan in Myanmar, Thai in Thailand, Lao in Laos, Dai and Zhuang in China and Tay-Thai in Vietnam. In fact, there is small community in Dibrugarh, Assam, that till date follows the customs and scriptures of the Tai race and speaks in Tai language.

The oral history of Chin-Kuki-Mizo communities places their origin to Sinlung/Chinlung or closed cave, probably the Great Wall in China. Similarities in the nouns between Chinese languages and speeches used among communities in Northeast India and Southeast Asia are also a point worth investigating.

Golden Pagoda Monastery – Arunachal Pradesh, India

Northeast India houses many important Buddhist sites and important monasteries. The path of the Buddha can be traced from Arunachal Pradesh to Myanmar and beyond. India could then utilize the Buddhist heritage circuits, so that there is an increase in the Asian pilgrims annually. This in turn will encourage greater interaction leading to an increase in trade, commerce and tourism in the entire region.

Educational exchange between the two regions can also boost the ties and help integrate the relation. Courses on Southeast Asian history, politics, languages etc can be introduced in universities so that students are exposed to the world of Southeast Asia. Similarly, there could be exchange of students, teachers between the universities of Northeast India and Universities of Southeast Asia.

India has been supporting ASEAN, especially CLMV countries under the Initiatives for ASEAN Integration, which include projects on Training of English Language for Law Enforcement Officers in CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Vietnam) countries and Training of professionals dealing with capital markets in CLMV by National Institute of Securities Management Mumbai, scholarships for ASEAN students for higher education at Nalanda University, Training of ASEAN Civil Servants in drought management, disaster risk management, sustainable ground water management etc. To boost people-to-people interaction, India has been organizing various programmes including participation of ASEAN students in the National Children’s Science Congress, ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks, ASEAN-India Eminent Persons Lecture Series, ASEAN-India Students Exchange programme, ASEAN-India Media Exchange programme etc. Similar programmes needs to be initiated specifically for the Northeast Indian and Southeast Asian students.

An important contribution has been the ASEAN Studies Centre Inaugurated on 8 August 2016, functioning from the Indian Council of Social Science and Research-North Eastern Regional Centre located in the North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU) in Shillong. The Centre is proposed to serve as a stakeholder in the North-eastern region and ASEAN by facilitating ASEAN-India research projects, studies, workshops and related activities.

Another is the Centre for South and South East Asian Studies, under the Political Science Department of Gauhati University. These educational centers will surely help propagate understanding of both the regions through research studies into the cultural, political, economic aspects of the ASEAN countries.

Keying on the traditional and cultural link, Northeast India can act as bridge for India to the Southeast Asia Nations and help bring forward a synergic relation that stands to benefit both the regions.

#NortheastIndia #SoutheastAsia #Culture #Education #HSMMGroup #ACTEASTPOLICY


North East India and South East Asia: An amalgamation of culture and heritage

The South East Asian countries have so much in common with the Northeastern part of India. Though separate as nations and region, the Southeast Asian countries and Northeastern region of India bond over the similarities they share with one another in terms of culture and heritage. It is fascinating to witness the unique cultural practices of one community being replicated and performed by people in a different country altogether. Such connections naturally play to bring communities and countries together.

Festivities are a great source of happiness and a celebration of belonging to a community. The festivals of Rongali or Bohag Bihu in Assam, Pi Mai in Lao PDR, Songkran in Thailand and Sangken in Arunachal Pradesh are threaded together by being rooted in same cultural and traditional practices. This sameness creates feeling of oneness with one another and is a vector for forging stronger ties between the two regions.

The New Year festival is celebrated in Lao PDR, Thailand, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam around the same time in the month of April and holds significant similarity with one another.

Pi Mai Celebration, Lao PDR

Pi Mai Lao is the Laotian New Year celebrated around the same time as Bihu in Assam, Songkran in Thailand and Sangken in Arunachal Pradesh. The Pi Mai Lao celebration has become synonymous of Lao identity. The celebration attracts much fanfare with traditional throwing of water on each other, parades and dances and singing songs. The ritualistic cleansing of statue and images of Buddha is also done. Devotees collect water falling off from the statues and images and pour on one another as an act of ridding them from past sins.

Sangken Celebration, Arunachal Pradesh, India

Similarly in Arunachal Pradesh, Sangken festival is celebrated with fervor and zeal in the Tai Khamptis, Singphoos and Tangsas (Tikhaks) inhabited districts. It marks the advent of the New Year. This three day festival is also celebrated with people throwing water at each other. Though it is celebrated all over the Tai Khamptis, Singphoos and Tangsas (Tikhaks) inhabited districts with great enthusiasm, it is in The Land of the Golden Pagoda Namsai and Chongkham, Empong, Phaneng and Karoni (Assam) that these communities hold the very important ritual of bathing the Buddha and people from all over come to witness this event. The pouring of water is symbolic of the cleansing of the spirit, mind and body.

Songkran Celebration, Thailand

Synonymous to these festivals, the Songkran is celebrated in Thailand. Visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks is commonly practiced. Water pouring on Buddha statues is considered an iconic ritual of this festival. It is a festival of unity and so people who have moved away usually return home during the holiday to their loved ones and elders. As a way to show respect, younger people often practice water pouring over the palms of elders’ hands. Paying reverence to ancestors is also an important part of Songkran tradition. The word “Songkran” comes from the Sanskrit word sakranti literally “astrological passage”, meaning transformation or change.

Rongali Bihu Celebration, Assam, India

In the same note Rongali Bihu is celebrated in Assam with the same zest. It is a joyful festival celebrating the New Year and start of spring harvest. Dancing, singing, visiting relatives and receiving blessings from elderly are some popular activities during Bihu festival. Offering of white-red cotton scarves (called gamosa), betal leaves and areca nuts on tray is made to the senior relatives or respected elders to receive their blessings.

These festivals offer a unique standpoint for both the region to assimilate and form a stronger association basing on the common cultural practices and legacy.

Tourism opportunities can be exploited during the festival times. Themed based tourism plans can be mapped out where people could plan to celebrate the festivities in the other’s land with the same fervor as they do back home. It can also be highlighted that the language of the Tai people living in parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam has some similarities with the language spoken in Thailand and Lao PDR as they all are a branch of Tai-Kadai language family. With both business and political leaders of the region looking to open this corridor of opportunity, it is now time that the region become an amalgamation pot of culture, business and tourism.

We should capitalize on our cultural, languages and ethnic similarities between Northeast India and Southeast Asian countries to create a flourishing and synergistic tourist and trade economy between the two regions.

#NortheastIndia #SoutheastAsia #Culture #RongaliBihu #PiMaiLao #Sangken #Songkran #HSMMGroup #Tourism #ACTEASTPOLICY #ASEAN


Tourism Opportunities in Southeast Asia and Northeast India

Tourism development not only brings great financials dividends to a country but it also strengthens the ties of the people and culture. As such boosting of tourism ties between the Southeast Asian Nations and Northeast of India promises to create a market of great economic potential for both the regions.

The Northeast India is a viable tourist destination with a galore of eco-spots, national parks, cultural monuments, pilgrimage sites, wildlife and regions of pure scenic beauty. Apart from this, Northeast is also favorably situated in close proximity with the Southeast Asian region, sharing borders with Myanmar, China, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Thus, Northeast India can become the grand gateway to the Southeast Asian nations. If a smooth functioning transit corridor is established, it will not only boost tourism but will benefit trade linkages between the regions. Although steps been taken in creation of such a corridor but it still requires a vehement approach in order to strengthen this linkage.

India Myanmar Thailand Friendship Car Rally 2016

Knowing the viability of tourism prospect between Northeast India and Southeast Asia, it is time to put forward actionable plans to reap benefit of such ties. There are certain steps needed to be taken on priority basis such as developing connectivity; be it by air, road or water. Currently air connectivity fairs poorly in propagating an easy flow of people or trade, to and fro, between the two regions. Proposals for Greenfield airports in the Northeast have barely taken root, and the future of an Open Skies Policy as introduced by the ASEAN-India Aviation Cooperation Framework, is also unclear. These policies need to be reviewed and implemented soon. The India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway is an ambitious road connectivity project which is still underway. When constructed, the road is expected to boost not only ASEAN-India Free Trade Area but increase tourists’ inflow and outflow to both the regions. In a bid to strengthen connectivity, Prime Minister Modi has shown his keen desire for early completion of the ‘Road to Mandalay’ project. This 3200 kilometer long highway has the potential to act as a game changer for the entire Northeast region. The project will drastically enhance connectivity between the Mekong sub-region and India. The highway project, which begins from Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand via Mandalay in Myanmar, will throw open India’s eastern border to a new bus route from Imphal to Mandalay – which would enable travelers to reach Mandalay from Manipur in just over 14 hours.

Mawlynnong Village – The cleanest village in Asia (Meghalaya, India)

The Northeast governments and the Indian Government should attract tour operators both the national and international levels to establish offices where North-East region-specific tours are made available to the population. If pre-packaged plans can be arranged, it may ease the travel planning for potential tourists to North-East. In order to fulfill the goal of the North-East as a bridge between mainland India and South East Asia, the North-East tourism websites and operators must provide details in Southeast Asian languages and perhaps have updates stressing the historical and cultural linkages between people and places in the North-East with the South-East Asian countries which would garner a feeling of belongingness and increase the chances of North-East being chosen for a holiday or tour.

Living Root Bridges – Meghalaya, India

Umngot River – Dawki, Meghalaya, India

Review of the Restricted Area Permit (RAP), Protected Area Permit (PAP) and the Inner Line Permit (ILP) to promote tourism is also another crucial aspect. The ILP is required for Indian citizens who wish to visit Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram; the PAP and the RAP are applicable to foreign nationals who have to be granted special permission to travel on recognized routes by the relevant authorities. Easing of such permits, provided they do not hamper the security of the region, will go a long way to flourish the inflow of tourists to these places.

Luang Prabang, Lao PDR (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Forging on the shared religious and traditional history of Buddhism, creation of tourism route based on Buddhist circuit is a great medium to attract tourists. ASEAN member countries have already been working on the development of Buddhist circuits within their own countries, on a bilateral basis and at the regional level, including taking it up with India. The idea of marketing ASEAN and India as an integrated circuit was endorsed at the ASEAN Tourism Ministers Meeting way back in 2008 and is seen as an area of enormous potential.

Luang Prabang, Lao PDR (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Wat That Luang, Vientiane, Lao PDR

Also in the gamut of India’s ACT EAST POLICY, Tourism opportunity ushers in a pool of economic development in varied areas. A well-planned tourism activity will usher in development, create jobs and provide additional source of revenues which is particularly significant for Northeast India. Always shrouded in isolation with insurgency perils and underdeveloped infrastructure, Northeast thus have much to gain from investments in Tourism as it will surely ripple effect into development in general for the region.

Pakse, Lao PDR (The Famous Bolivian Plateau)


Greater Mekong Sub Region Connectivity and Opportunities in North East India

Six nations bordering the Mekong river namely, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Yunnan and Guangxi provinces of China collectively form the economic entity known as the Greater Mekong Sub Region (GMR).

This economic cooperation program was inaugurated in 1992 through the initiative of Asian Development Bank (ADB). This initiative has projected the development of the economic corridors in Southeast Asia to enhance connectivity within the region. It provides a benchmark for successful sub-regional and cross-border cooperation and has achieved significant progress in the construction of road networks and transportation regulatory arrangements.

The Greater Mekong Sub region (GMS) is a market of more than 240 million people and a land area of 2.3 million square kilometres. There are abundant resources, including a rich agricultural base, extensive timber and fisheries resources, considerable mineral potentials, and vast energy resources in the form of hydropower and large coal and petroleum resources and availability of low cost workforce. Thus in term of resources, natural and otherwise, this region has the potential to turn into a major economy hub in Southeast Asia with proper investment and development of infrastructure.

The GMS has played a key role since its inception in 1992, by facilitating Southeast Asia economic integration. The GMS have focused on a number of infrastructure projects to connect the countries in the sub region via economic corridors. These projects have developed road and rail networks and air transport in the GMS countries, which can be useful “ready-made” links for South–Southeast Asia connectivity. An additional consideration is the role of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). It serves as a secretariat to sub regional arrangements in the GMS as well as in South Asia, such as the South Asia Sub regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC).

Connectivity with Northeast India

India has a lot to benefit by strengthening trade relation with the greater Mekong Region. Since the 1990s, when India ushered in great economic reforms, ‘the look east policy’ was implemented which saw the promotion of trade partnership and connectivity projects being laid out. Creation of a smooth connectivity with the Southeast Asian region has been a key element in India’s policy of seeking partnerships on economic, technical and strategic fronts. But unfortunately these policies haven’t been really able to tap the economical opportunities available in this region.

Presently the ‘look east’ policy has been approached with a new fervent with ACT EAST POLICY. During India’s Prime Ministers visit to Myanmar to attend ASEAN Summit in November 2014, he announced transformation of India’s ‘Look East’ to ‘Act East Policy thereby indicating that New Delhi is ready to put more substance in realizing the goals of such a policy. While Myanmar is a lynchpin and one of the most important gateways for getting connected to the ASEAN and the region beyond India’s Northern Eastern states also have a greater role to play by serving as a firm base for launching

India’s Act East policy

As part of this renewed Look East and now ‘Act East Policy’ initiative, India spearheaded the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Initiative (MGCI) in November 2000, with India, Cambodia, Laos People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam as members. MGCI has four basic objectives apart from identifying common heritage and cultural linkages. These are: tourism, culture, education and transport and communications. These initiatives included Mekong-Ganga Tourism Investment Guide, promotion of tourism in famous cultural and religious sites, preservation of ancient manuscripts, heritage sites and artefacts, increasing student exchanges through providing scholarships, and improving and developing road, rail and air links between these sites. This multilateral initiative was not only designed to improve the cultural ties, but also strengthen the commercial links and connectivity between India and the member states. There have been several other initiatives in the last one decade to concretize a sub-regional cooperation such as the South Asia Growth Quadrangle initiative, Kunming initiative, the Bangladesh-China- India and Myanmar (BCIM) initiative, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Techno-Economic Cooperation (BIMST-EC). However, not much material is available on the outcomes of these projects. Nonetheless, Northeast India should actively participate in forming trade relation with the Greater Mekong Region due to its close proximity with the region and also cultural and territorial similarities The concept of the Mekong-India Economic Corridor (MIEC) has been under consideration for several years as a major India-ASEAN connectivity initiative. Integrating the four Greater Mekong Countries, namely Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam with India through its east coast and North East region, it will link vibrant emerging economies through a network of land and sea infrastructure.

On the similar line to Mekong-Ganga plan, we could rather focus on Mekong- Brahmaputra Cooperation Initiative. The corridor is envisaged as a dynamic industrial region comprising large investment zones, rapid port and rail connectivity, and smart cities. Thus, development of infrastructure and connectivity networks in the North East region and their linkages to the Greater Mekong Sub Region, whether over land or through maritime domain will be intrinsic to the success of India’s Act East Policy and ASEAN economic development.

Namami Brahmaputra, a five-day river festival, is going to be held across 21 districts in Assam from March 31 to April 4. The festival will showcase the National Waterways, especially NW-2 from Dhubri to Sadiya, which is a bridge to drive economic progress in South East Asian markets, as part of India’s ‘Act East Policy’

A trade relation with GMR region with Northeast is sure to pay great dividends. Therefore effort needs to be paced up to strategize systemic business engagement with the Greater Mekong Region. The Northeastern region of India is an essential factor in extending linkages with the Southeast Asian countries, it is important this region jointly participates in the development process of the region. Similar to the GMS structure where the Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region are at the front line of China’s participation in the regional structure, the Northeastern states too needs to be integrated into the eastern periphery of Greater Mekong Region.

#CLMV #ACTEASTPOLICY#NortheastIndia_CLMVBusinessSummit2017 #NamamiBrahmaputra


The North East India-CLMV Business Summit 2017

The recently concluded North East (India) – CLMV Business Summit 2017, organized by ICSI and Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, in association with Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC) in Assam was a great success. The event was chaired by Chief Guest Shri HonchunNgandam, honorable Education Minister of Arunachal Pradesh State Government, India.

I was honored to be part of this business summit and share the stage with honorable Ministers, Bureaucrats, Government Officials and other dignitaries. The theme of the conference was ‘Deliberation on Trade Potential of Services between NER (I) & Cambodia, Lao DPR, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) countries’. The discussions were focused on various topics including Education, Higher Education Infrastructure, Education Exchange, Skill Development, Capacity Building, Healthcare, Herbal Medicines, Ayurveda, Investment opportunities in CLMV, Incentives for North East Indian Companies for starting businesses in CLMV countries etc.

My address at the summit was keyed on identifying the need for“Skill Development and Capacity Building” in CLMV countries. The CLMV (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam) covers 32% area of ASEAN and 165 Million populations. The majority of population is unskilled and have low literacy rate. The understanding of business languages like English is very limited. Thus it is required to uplift the Education standards in these countries. It is also advisable to introduce more Vocational Training Centers providing industry specific trainings. The Education Exchange programs between North East India and CLMV will boost the skill development in CLMV.

The CLMV countries like Lao PDR have priority list for FDI (Foreign Direct Investments) under which they provide special subsidies and tax benefits to the investors. The priority list of Lao PDR includes Education, Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals and Agriculture. The Lao PDR is very peaceful country and safe for investments. There is a single party government and all policies are investment friendly. They have single window policy for FDI so that you can receive all the necessary information, permits and licenses from one office.

Assam in North East of India is gateway to South East Asia. Also the distance of CLMV countries from Guwahati (Capital of Assam) is less than New Delhi (Capital of India). The distance from Guwahati to New Delhi is 1462 KM and Guwahati to Myanmar is 1133 KM, Guwahati to Lao PDR is 1441 KM, Guwahati to Cambodia is 2128 KM and from Guwahati to Vietnam is 1546 KM. As we could see that some of the CLMV are much closer to North East India than the country’s own capital, there is huge opportunity in strengthening the strategic bilateral ties between North East India and CLMV countries.

The industries in North East India should plan to invest in CLMV. There are special grants and benefits from the Government of India under “Act East Policy” to promote SME in CLMV (ASEAN). Also the construction of the Trilateral Highway joining India to Myanmar and Thailand will benefit the trade with CLMV. I am thankful to the EXIM Bank of India to come forward and showing active participation in facilitating the investors from India to invest in CLMV. I appreciate the initiative of EXIM Bank of India to finance 60% – 75% of the total project cost for promoting SME in CLMV. The EXIM Bank of India is actively looking for projects such as Medical College and Hospital, Coffee Plantation, Pulses Farming, etc. in CLMV to be taken by the companies from North East India.

#CLMV #ACTEASTPOLICY#NortheastIndia_CLMVBusinessSummit2017