Guwahati, Sept 20 : The North East has something to cheer about. If things work out as planned by the Central Government then it might find itself at the hub of South East Asia, where some of the most dynamic economies of the world are situated.
With the aim of bringing the north east to the mainstream of economic development, the Centre has sought the help of Thailand to share its development expertise. It has also decided to set up an exclusive North East Cell in its Board of Investment (BOI) to promote trade and investment between both the countries. The proposal was mooted at the end of the 4th North East Business Summit in Guwahati this week. The Summit, held in Guwahati, attracted nearly 247 expressions of interest from 64 companies in sectors such as tourism, infrastructure, manufacturing, food processing and information technology. Participating in the special session on "Thailand-India Business Opportunities: Strengthening Partnership", Mani Shankar Aiyar, Minister for the Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER) said that the Board of Investment has an India Desk but the time has arrived for it to create an exclusive Northeast Cell to help the region in becoming a true partner of South East Asia. While emphasizing the need for the north east to take off, Aiyar said: "It is essential that it should take off because the north east is where Southeast Asia begins. And, it is an extraordinary situation that instead of finding itself at the hub of some of the most dynamic economies of the world, the north east region has remained a prisoner of its frontier." Apart from entrepreneurs from different states of the north east, a total of 48 foreign delegates participated in the summit. High commissioners and ambassadors of Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Arab League, Bhutan and Czech Republic, also attended the summit.
Thailand, which was in the limelight during the summit, showed keen interest in sectors like infrastructure development, agro-business, food processing and development of human resources.
K. Lalhmsingthanga, an entrepreneur from Mizoram, believes that the summit meeting would help the region.
"It has been highlighting the northeast in business aspect. Actually the other parts of India as well as other countries do not know this region of India. So, the summit will definitely help to boost business as well as in other aspects." Chering Panco, an entrepreneur from Bhutan said: "We have similarity in culture and nature. So there will be a lot of scope in tourism. The people who come to Bhutan will also visit the north east and both the regions will be benefited."
On the second and final day of the 4th North East Business summit the atmosphere was a mix of high expectations and palpable frustration. While many people appeared upbeat about impending improvements in the economic climate of the northeast, there were others, who felt that many things are still to be done before a real economic upswing in trade and commerce could rejuvenate the region.