Participants at the workshop (Source: VNA)

New Delhi (VNA) – Measures to promote cooperation between India’s eastern and northeastern regions and eastern countries were discussed at a workshop in Odisha state, India, from March 16-18.

Held by the Kalinga International Foundation (KIF), the event brought together officials and scholars of India and 16 countries, including Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Philippines, and Myanmar.

Participants focused their discussion on how to boost economic, culture, tourism and energy cooperation; maritime and security connection in Indian Ocean – Pacific Ocean; and regional connectivity.

In his opening remark, Minister of Petroleum, Skill Development and Business Dharmendra Pradhan hoped the workshop would help explore common interests of the parties, thus promoting dialogues for their future cooperation.

Meanwhile, KIF Chairman Lalit Mansingh said with the central role in the “Act East” policy of the Indian Government, the eastern and northeastern regions will become partners of friendly neighbouring eastern nations such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Australia and Japan.

Addressing the seminar, Vietnamese Ambassador Ton Sinh Thanh highlighted the significance of the event as it was organised at the time that India is promoting the implementation of its “Act East” policy, and economic cooperation between the eastern and northeastern regions with eastern countries.

There is great prospect for cooperation among India’s northeastern regions regions and eastern nations thanks to similarities in culture; geographical proximity; their traditional ties; their determination to boost economic ties; as well as dynamic development of both ASEAN and India, he stressed. 

The diplomat reviewed the ASEAN-India economic cooperation in the last decade, saying that it has reaped remarkable advance.

Two-way trade has doubled, hitting 76 billion USD in 2017, he said, expressed his belief that the trade between the two side will continuously develop in the future.

ASEAN is the fourth largest trade partner of India, while India ranks seventh among ASEAN’s trade partners. The ASEAN-India investment cooperation also witnessed stable growth in recent years. Investment from ASEAN to India hit over 70 billion USD in the last 17 years, accounting for over 17 percent of the country’s total foreign direct investment (FDI).

Ambassador Thanh pointed out challenges facing the economic links between the two sides, stressing that the two sides need to make more efforts in improving infrastructure and enhancing links, and work closely to maintain peace, security in the Indian Ocean – Pacific Ocean.-VNA