Expand South Asia intra-regional trade, investment flows: Manmohan Singh

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Thimphu (Bhutan), Apr 28 (ANI): Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said intra-regional trade flows have grown, while transport and telecommunication links have expanded over the years between South Asian countries.

"I believe we should challenge ourselves by acknowledging that the glass of regional cooperation, regional development and regional integration is half empty. Intra-regional trade flows have grown and transport and telecommunication links have expanded," said Dr. Singh in his opening statement at the two-day XVIth SAARC Summit that began here today.

"Yet, the share of intra-regional trade and investment flows in total trade and investment flows in South Asia is far below what we see in East and South-east Asia. It is also well below the potential," he added.

Dr. Singh also hailed former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi as a man with a great vision.

"Speaking at the first SAARC Summit in Dhaka in 1985, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi described the establishment of SAARC as an act of faith. Based on our experience so far we can affirm that this was also an act of great foresight and statesmanship," said Dr. Singh.

"We have created institutions for regional cooperation, but we have not yet empowered them adequately to enable them to be more pro-active," he added.

Dr. Singh said: "In these two and a half decades our subcontinent has been witness to much progress. Yet, each one of our countries, and our region as a whole, has a long way to go in fulfilling the aspirations of our people."

"In looking back at these two and a half decades we can claim the glass is half full, and compliment ourselves, or, we can admit the glass is half empty and challenge ourselves," he added. (ANI)

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