Jitendra Singh, Union Minister for Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER) has invited the United Kingdom (UK) to explore business opportunities in northeast India.
In a virtual meeting with British High Commission representatives, Singh said India and the UK can form a “mutually rewarding” relationship due to “intricately woven bonds” that make collaboration and joint pursuits easier, as per official statement.
He highlighted the Northeast’s role as “gateway” to trade and business with ASEAN economies and pointed out that significant improvement in rail, road and air connectivity in the region along with sorting out of the Indo-Bangladesh enclaves has “cleared the decks” for business activities.
He said soon a train will be launched connecting Tripura with Bangladesh, providing the entire region access to seaports. He underlined the government's focus on exploring alternative modes of transport - like inland waterways (from the Brahmaputra to the Bay of Bengal).
British officials highly appreciated the handicraft, fruit, vegetables and spices in the northeastern states and expressed their willingness to brand them in the global market. They said that Britain is a pioneer in agri-tech and could explore setting up cold chains in the region on the lines of what they did in Haryana for processing of food products, the statement said.
Singh, welcomed the British Council's proposal for collaboration in the education sector for teaching science and mathematics in all the eight northeastern states and an MoU will be signed soon with the North Eastern Council to take the collaboration to a new high.
The British Council also expressed willingness to work with universities and tech institutes of the region, mainly IIT Guwahati.
"India and Britain are capable of a mutually rewarding business relationship because of their shared commonalities at different levels, including cultural, social and linguistic," he said.
Singh said in the last six years, the northeastern region had made up for several lapses of the past because the region received attention at par with other regions of the country under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This instilled confidence among the people and also raised the capacity to engage with other parts of India as well as the countries across the eastern borders, at different levels, he said.
He said Prime Minister Modi had changed the policy of "Look East" to Act East to take the multilateral cooperation to newer heights.