India looking to Laos to bring India-ASEAN FTA into force: Patil

Vientiane (Laos), Sept.10 (ANI): Hailing the economic growth of Laos and its investor friendly policies, visiting Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Friday said that as the fourth largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity and one of the fastest growing economies, India is eager to expand commercially in this country.

Delivering a speech at a banquet hosted by Laotian President Choummaly Sayasone, President Patil said there was a need to encourage Indian investors further to avail mutually beneficial economic opportunities in trade and investment. "On trade, we hope that Laos will issue the necessary notification at an early date to bring the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement into force. We also hope that Laos will participate in the India-ASEAN Trade Fair due to be held in March 2011 in New Delhi. Your participation will create awareness about complementarities that exist between our economies," Patil said.

Emphasizing that India attaches a very high priority to its relationship with ASEAN, and that within its Look East policy, it considered Laos a crucial partner; Patil said she was hopeful that the traditional friendship between both countries would ensure improved collaborative efforts under the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Framework.

"There exists a great amount of goodwill in India for Laos. This is but natural, given that we have historical links, dating back more than two millennia. The exchanges between our peoples have resulted in many commonalities in our cultures, and some similarity of words in our languages. The purpose of my visit to the 'jewel of the Mekong', as Laos is so poetically called, is to reaffirm the historically close bonds of friendship that exist between our two countries. It is also to continue the high level dialogue," she said.

She also said that India is willing to be Laos's development partner in the Socio-Economic Development Strategy that seeks to move the latter out of the Least Development Country (LDC) status by 2020. India is willing to be your developmental partner.

"We are already engaged in a number of projects in Laos in the areas of hydropower, IT, human resource development, agriculture and mining. I am pleased that one of the projects the Paksong - Jiangxay Bangyo transmission line project was commissioned jointly by us today. I would like to reiterate India's continued interest and commitment to supporting your development objctives through capacity-building and human resource development," she said.

She also praised Laos for extending valuable support to India in various multilateral bodies, including to India's aspirations to be a permanent member in an expanded UN Security Council and the very positive role it played in facilitating the joining of India in the East Asia Summit. By Praful Kumar Singh(ANI)

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