ADB-Confederation of Indian Industry Conference on Promoting Mekong-India Cooperation
India's Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Salman Khurshid opened this Asian Development Bank (ADB)-Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Conference by describing economic cooperation between India and countries of the Mekong region as a "win-win proposition," noting in his inaugural speech that trade between India and the Mekong countries expanded by 25% annually over the past decade. He further stressed the need to increase infrastructure financing in the region and improve connectivity between India and the Mekong region.
Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General of CII also welcomed participants and noted the critical role of the Mekong region for India's "Look East Policy", which enhanced connectivity with Southeast Asia through Mekong countries-comprising Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam.
Other speakers in the inaugural session represented the governments of Cambodia, Viet Nam, Thailand and India. Cambodia's Secretary of State, Ministry of Commerce, Mr. Pan Sorasak, cited complementarities with Cambodia's water and land resources and India's manpower and technical expertise, highlighting potential for future bilateral cooperation. Mr. Nguyen Cam Tu, Viet Nam's Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade noted the role of multimodal transport systems in connecting India with other countries in the region and the need to adopt ICT and GPS-based logistics systems to improve management of the Mekong India Economic Corridor. ADB Managing Director Mr. Rajat Nag closed the session by emphasizing the tremendous potential that connectivity between India and Mekong countries can bring to the region.
The Conference aimed to
- Promote awareness of the benefits, opportunities and challenges of enhancing cooperation between the Mekong countries and India;
- Share information on major ongoing and planned subregional initiatives in transport connectivity, trade facilitation and trade finance, energy security, and regional infrastructure finance, as well as the gaps and issues that have been identified in these areas; and
- Provide a platform for stakeholders to exchange views on developments affecting India and the Mekong countries, and to identify opportunities for engaging in some of the ongoing or planned initiatives.
The conference convened four technical sessions around the themes of physical connectivity, trade facilitation and finance, energy security, and regional infrastructure financing. Discussions generated ideas on modalities for Mekong-India cooperation, and provided direction and content for planned initiatives in the subregion. The conference was jointly organized by ADB, CII, and the Government of India, and attended by over 175 delegates.