The Hindu, 11 November 2005
ADB, RBI for FTA between India and Mekong nations
New Delhi, Nov. 11 (PTI): Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday advocated that India should go in for a free trade agreement (FTA) with China and five other nations in the Mekong region to sustain high growth.
Pointing to India’s abnormally low trade volume with Mekong countries — China, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, RBI Deputy Governor Rakesh Mohan said there should be some dialogue for extending the free trade agreement that the country has with Thailand to the five other nations in the region.
He also stressed on greater cooperation in energy, transport and tourism sectors in the region, which is one of the fastest growing regions world over.
Speaking at a CII-ADB conference, the visiting ADB Vice President Liqun Jin said: "India, in pursuing its ’Look East’ policy, has been actively forging cooperation agreements with eastern neighbours...When you are looking east, what comes into your vision is of course your immediate neighbours namely the Mekong countries."
"The proliferation of FTAs is perhaps the clearest demonstration of the desire of Asian countries to forge closer relationships. As of 2004, there were more than 30 FTAs under negotiations in East Asia alone...South Asian countries have been active in cross regional cooperation initiatives like BIMSTEC," he said, adding Mekong region was very much relevant to India.
"The region urgently needs to work out a coherent and comprehensive strategy for intensifying its efforts toward integration while fully acknowledging the actual conditions of individual countries," he said.