Sunday, 12 August 2012

Preparing North-East for the Look East Policy

Das, H.N.: Preparing North-East for Look East Policy. Dialogue Quarterly 9, 1 (2007): 29-35.

In this paper the author analyses India’s Look East Policy (LEP) to illustrate the potential role of the North Eastern states in this trade extension. India’s Look East Policy aims to deepen regional economic integration by entering into free trade or comprehensive economic partnership agreements with ASEAN as a whole, and with individual countries of the region in particular. The legal and formal arrangements for trade through the North East to South East Asia are now more or less complete, and even the connecting routes are in the process of construction. However, the author argues that, given its present state of economic development, the North East is more likely to suffer adverse effects and a drain on its resources rather than benefit from the LEP as a result of direct exposure to the international market. Unless both the national and state governments give due importance to the overall development of the region, the North East will be little more than a bridge between India and the South East Asian nations.

The North East region has great potential in agriculture due to a good climate, plentiful supply of water, the low cost of land and the availability of cheap labour. Plantation crops such as tea and rubber are suited to the climate, as are fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants. Cane, bamboo and Assam silk products also have potential in international markets. The economic potential of the region is not realized, however, due to the lack of processing industries and adequate transport infrastructure for export of agricultural and other

The paper concludes that the North East region will not benefit from India’s LEP unless proper development of the region is undertaken as the first step to wider regional cooperation.

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