Manmohan seeks early conclusion of BIMSTEC free trade area agreement

November 13th, 2008 - 2:23 pm ICT by ANI  

Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Nov 13 (ANI): To give a boost to trade and investment in the BIMSTEC region, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has called for the early conclusion of free trade area agreement in the region.

Addressing the inaugural session of the second BIMSTEC summit in New Delhi on Thursday, Dr. Singh also called for concluding agreement on trade and investment to ensure greater flow of investments and further widen and deepen the economic relations among the countries.

BIMSTEC is an opportunity we should seize together. Your presence here today is an indication of our political will and commitment to do so, he said.

In the past ten years, our combined GDP increased two and a half times to reach 1.7 trillion US dollars. There is much greater connectivity between us, more trade and investment and more people to people exchanges, Dr. Singh said.

Globalisation and economic interdependence offer opportunities for growth and prosperity but also have their downside, as the recent international economic and financial crisis has amply shown.

The Prime Minister said that climate change, energy and food security are posing a threat to the development efforts of the region and urged the need to have a cohesive approach to deal with it.

He cautioned to deal effectively with threats posed by terrorism including from sea routes to ensure the tempo of development is maintained without hindrance.

Dr. Singh said that 21st century belongs to India and BIMSTEC has to play an important role in this regard.

He said the cooperation among ASEAN and SAARC have started showing results along with BIMSTEC and East Asia Grouping is another reality.

Dr. Singh advocated for intensified cooperation among the member countries in the areas of tourism, transport education and training.

The Prime Minister announced 150 new scholarships for the children of the Grouping taking the total number to 450. (ANI)

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