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Efforts on to make South Asia an inter-connected region: Jaishankar

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on June 06, 2019 Published on June 06, 2019

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar addresses the audience during The Growth Net Summit 7.0, in New Delhi   -  PTI

The newly-appointed External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said that South Asia is among the least inter-connected regions in the world, but efforts are being made to make the region more integrated.

“If you look around the world, it is among the least connected regions due to multiples reasons such as history, identity etc. A lot of attention was given in the last five years to this to make it more connected and I am very confident that it would be among our top priorities for the next five years,” said Jaishankar, while addressing The Growth Net Summit 7.0.

The first development which can bring about the change is for the countries to realise that they are losing out by not being connected enough and most of the South-Asian countries understand that today, he added.

Talking about the Bimstec leaders  who were invited for PM Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, he said that India sees energy, mindset and possibility in the Bimstec. “SAARC has certain problems and I think we all know what it is even if you were to put terrorism issue aside, there are connectivity and trade issues. If you look at why Bimstec leaders were invited for PM's swearing-in, because we see energy, mindset and possibility in Bimstec,” he said.

Speaking at the public gathering for the first time after taking charge, Jaishankar said: “A large part of India’s economy has been externalised and there is a need for India’s foreign policy and the diplomatic machinery to help Indian companies gain better access to overseas markets.”.

“There is a greater integration between government departments to create a stronger focus on the economic issues being faced by the Indian companies especially in overseas markets,” Jaishankar added.

Speaking at the event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Ananta Centre and Smadja and Smadja, he highlighted three trends being witnessed in the world which include globalisation under stress especially in terms of market access and mobility of labour, growth of nationalism and global rebalancing.

On the rise in bilateral FTAs in light of the fact that the WTO system was not working,  Jaishankar said India needs to find ways to fix organisations like the WTO and make it more effective.

Published on June 06, 2019
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