NEW DELHI: A robust maritime connectivity between India and Asean members is crucial for the realisation of the full potential of India-Asean trade, according to a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce report titled ‘Trade with Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean)’. The report mentions that connectivity through the land route is of immense importance since it engages North-Eastern India with the Asean members. The North-East can serve as a gateway to the Asean countries through Myanmar and further to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Maritime connectivity is the key to facilitate production networks and creation of global and regional value chains, says the report, which was presented in Rajya Sabha recently.
It has pointed out that several Asean members are ahead of India in the shipping sector and Singapore is one of the world’s leading ports and container terminals. Other Asean countries are making rapid progress in modernising and expanding their ports and shipping services. The challenges to Asean-India maritime connectivity include shortage of port capacity, very few direct calls, high port-handling charges, lack of skilled human resources and absence of an institutional mechanism, among others. However, the Trilateral Highway and Kaladan Multi Modal Transport project are some major projects that facilitate India’s engagement with Asean members. Both the projects are being executed by the Ministry of External Affairs.