Gogoi for direct flights from Asean nations to Guwahati

Guwahati, Dec 17 (IANS) Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi Monday appealed to Asean nations to have their visa offices here and also asked them for direct flights from this city to that region to boost tourism, trade and commerce.

"Direct flights to Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) airport at Guwahati from these countries would increase the possibilities of enhancement in volume of trade, commerce, investment as well as tourism in the entire northeast region," Gogoi said, addressing the Asean-India Trade Conclave.

He also appealed to Asean nations to have their visa offices here.

Pointing out to the advantage of being situated very close to Myanmar - the gateway to Asean countries, he said that northeast India, especially Assam has been historically connected to the region through trade and commerce.

"During World War II, Stilwell Road was built connecting India and China through Myanmar. The road still exists, however, due to its bad condition, as well as trade restrictions, the same has been out of use," he pointed out.

The chief minister also pointed out that Assam's internal waterways network connecting Bangladesh gives access to the ports of Chittagong, Kolkata and Haldia.

"Both the land and water routes are available to investors for re-export to east and southeast Asia," he said.

"Assam's proximity to the SAARC countries of Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan would also enable foreign investors to take advantage of the expanding opportunities for regional integration through intra-regional trade under SAARC Preferential Trading Agreement (SAPTA)," Gogoi said.

Gogoi asked Asean nations to use Assam's key sectors like oil, tea, natural gas, coal, limestone, granite, etc and its unparalleled tourist attractions, including natural parks and wildlife sanctuaries for the mutual benefits of both sides.