Business leaders & think-tanks call for geo-political and economic engagement between India & South-East Asia


For the third consecutive year, The Centre for East and North East Regional Studies, Kolkata (CENERS-K), and The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCC&I) have jointly organized The Economic Summit  on “A brave new world-The Eastern Union. This new Eastern Union envisages collaborative geo –strategic, geo-political and geo-economic development on an inclusive platform. It takes the conventional nomenclature of Asia-Oceania, Asia Pacific and now Indo-Pacific and coalescence them into one unified entity: Eastern Union. The frictionless movement of people, goods and services across the borders of Eastern Union requires special focus that would be seen to ignite, speed up and enhance efficiency of exchange and create an atmosphere of empathy essential for the eminence of emerging eastern union. Despite some commendable efforts among these countries over the years, there still exists lack of a concrete, structured and overarching coalesce has been counterproductive to the many synergies that do exist. The overarching objective of this Economic summit is to open new markets and explore potentialities in the region and hope for a new world order.. B B Chatterjee, President,  Bengal Chamber stated, “The Bengal Chamber believes that it is our mandate to connect our Members and Stakeholders with new ideas and new concepts. “Eastern Union” is one such prospective Movement which has the potential to strengthen the Market in the Indo-Pacific Region integrating the areas that combine the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, and the land masses that surround them. Its geographical expanse is still undefined but it is said to range from the coast of East Africa, across the Indian Ocean, to the Western Pacific, including countries like Japan and Australia.” The Eastern and South Eastern part of the Globe is witnessing the world’s largest regional trading group being formed which accounts for 47.4% of the global population, 32.2% of the global economy, and 29.1% of global trade. This is known as Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which involves the entire South East Asia, East Asia and Asia Oceania, covering 16 countries, including India. After more than six years of negotiations, more than a dozen countries in Asia Pacific are now aiming to sign what would be the world’s largest trade agreement in 2020. This will have far reaching impacts on production, consumption and trade in general encompassing all the connected economies. The most recent development of India opting out of RCEP makes the deliberations at this Summit even more relevant and significant at this juncture.The inaugural session was graced by Governor of West Bengal  Jagdeep Dhankhar. Aniruddha Lahiri, Vice President CENERS-K; Former President ,  Bengal Chamber and the Summit Convener, “Through the Summit, we will attempt to present a platform to some key players in the business, economic and strategic domains to explore the concept of an “Eastern Union. The participants discussed and debated existing collaborations, relationships between Governments and the dynamics of multi lateralism that this region is witnessing through several trade and economic agreements and treaties. The New EU or Eastern Union is a proposed alliance of nations that form an integral part of the Indo Pacific region. The concept actually revolves around seeking a validation of an Economic block which would be, if can be formed, is the largest trading group in the world. And it is fully aligned with India’s policy at this point in time which you may have heard is “Look East “and from there it has evolved into “Act East.”He also said, “The topic resonates with the ethos of CENERS-K because the central objective of this think tank that is CENERS-K is to engage in the research of the geo-economic, geo-political and geo-strategic drivers for a disruptive development of the north eastern part of the country. However over the years the footprints of CENERS-K have also gone beyond the national boundaries. The idea of a union of these countries fits squarely into this endeavor of CENERS K.”Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, ,(Retd), President, CENERS-K and Honorary Chairperson, Strategic Initiative Committee, Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry mentioned, “The contours of the new economic world order is emerging clearly. The strategic centre of gravity of the world has shifted to Asia, not only in terms of military power but also economic power. Most of the hubs of the economic activities are in Asia today. If the dynamics of the Region can be managed by synergies avoiding conflict and confrontation and instead promoting competition and cooperation, the new Eastern Union will emerge as a viable geo-strategic, geo-economic and geo-political entity.”“Participation in regional forums has  become very important. We are still not enjoying a level playing field. Our neighbouring Bangladesh is creating an environment for business. No industrial nation in the world has grown without 80% literacy. We are lagging behind almost all countries. Entire strategy of looking east has to be instrument of change in domestic policy. There has to be investment in education and creating a skilled work force. Relationship in modern world is less about government to government and more about B2B and people to people connect’, stated Mr Sanjaya Baru, Writer, Policy Analyst. Key speakers included  Subir Bhaumik, Former BBC Correspondent, Writer and Columnist, Lt.Gen. J R Mukherjee ( retd), Vice President (Operations), CENERS-K, Mr ParanjoyGuhaThakurta,Journalist, Author, Documentary Film Maker,    Emranul Haq, MD, Dhaka Bank Limited , Mr Andrew Ford, Consul-General, Australian Consulate General, Kolkata, , Mr Masayuki Taga, Consul General of Japan, Kolkata. 

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