Act East policy to further ties with SE Asian nations: FM

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Act East policy to further ties with SE Asian nations: FM

New Delhi, Apr 3 (PTI) Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said India’s Act East policy will help in improving connectivity and relationship with South-East and East Asian countries.

Addressing the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) conference today, he expressed hope that that the initiatives taken by the 7-member grouping will help the member nations deal with challenges of unemployment and macro-economic and structural vulnerabilities.

“India is following a policy of Act East to improve connectivity and relations with countries of South-East Asia and East Asia. Improved access to gateway ports, particularly in Bangladesh and Myanmar, may help unleash the latent potential of agro and forest-based industries in India’s North East region,” he said.

Stressing that SASEC members should “stand together” in times of crisis, Jaitley said India has always played a pro-active role to support the neighbours.

During the recent earthquake in Nepal or tsunami in Sri Lanka or cyclone in Bangladesh in the last decade, India lent a helping hand to rebuild and rehabilitate affected people, he pointed out.

Finance ministers of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Myanmar met here today to reshape the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC), which was originally founded 16 years ago by four nations – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal.

About initiatives taken by India, Jaitley said the country together with Nepal is building a cross-border power transmission line to help in the distribution of electricity from power projects being developed in Nepal.

“I am confident we will be able to fully harness the hydropower potential of the region and act as a bridge connecting power surplus and power deficient regions,” he said.

In the vision document released today, the SASEC pledged to improve intra-regional connectivity to boost trade and tourism as they eye USD 70 billion incremental GDP and 20 million jobs by 2025.

The SASEC initiative, guided by a vision, will help the member countries optimally utilise their resources and facilitate access to trade gateways and linkages with global markets.

“Improved connectivity and infrastructure development could substantially spur economic growth in the region.

Enhanced cooperation among the member countries would also give an impetus to small and medium enterprises in the region.

Collaboration in knowledge sharing would facilitate innovation and research,” he said.

The SASEC vision is expected to help the member countries overcome the problems and challenges associated with unemployment, macroeconomic and structural vulnerabilities, access and integration, and limited investment and growth, Jaitley said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.