ASEAN ambassadors visiting India to boost tourism, trade


IMPHAL, India – Ambassadors of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-states are visiting the northeastern states to explore prospects of tourism and trade and to enhance people to people contacts between their countries and India, officials said Monday.

‘The northeast visit of the ASEAN envoys followed a series of meetings Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Minister Bijoy Krishna Handique held recently in New Delhi with the ambassadors and diplomats of ASEAN countries,’ a senior Manipur government official told reporters.

Referring to a DoNER ministry communique, the official said that both the northeastern states and the ASEAN countries would benefit from trade and economic activities between the two regions.

A seven-member delegation, led by Malaysian ambassador Dato Tan Seng Sung, arrived in Imphal Sunday for the visit. The other members are Myanmar ambassador Kyl Thein, Singapore ambassador Calvin Eu, Brunei ambassador Dato Paduka Haji Sidek Ali, Indonesian ambassador Ardi Muhammad Ghalib, Thailand ambassador Krit Kraichiffe and Laos ambassador Thonghpanh Syackha Chom.

After holding a meeting with Manipur Chief Minister O.Ibobi Singh, his cabinet colleagues and state government officials Monday, the ASEAN envoys left for Moreh, the key town on the border with Myanmar.

Moreh, 110 km east of Imphal, is already teeming with commercial activity and Myanmar has also constructed a huge market at Tamu on its side of the border. Trade is now on full-scale during day time.

From Manipur, the ASEAN ambassadors will visit Mizoram, where they would visit India-Myanmar border trade centre of Zokhawthar.

The envoys would also meet the Mizoram governor, the chief minister and top officials during their stay in Aizawl.

According to a DoNER ministry official: ‘As part of initiatives to improve connectivity between northeast India and Southeast Asia, the union government is considering a rail link from Manipur to Vietnam. Efforts are under way to have a rail link from Jiribam (close to the Assam border) to Hanoi in Vietnam, passing through Myanmar.’

Improved connectivity between the northeast and the southeast Asian countries will not only help the region discover a larger market but also integrate India with these countries, the official said.