KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — Malaysian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) should consider investing in the agricultural, tourism and services sectors in India’s north-eastern states as the country is gradually opening up its economy in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, says the co-chairman of the Asean-India Business Council (AIBC) Datuk Ramesh Kodammal
He said this was important as North-east India is being developed as a gateway to Asean, which will see growing connectivity taking place between the republic and the 10-member bloc in years to come.
“North-east India is something special to us as it shares international borders with Myanmar, and perhaps Malaysian SMEs seeking to become globally competitive should leverage on this by investing in agricultural products.
“Assam, being one of the Indian north-eastern state, is rich in bamboo, and Malaysian SMEs could perhaps tap the potential of the commodity,” he said during a webinar titled “India-Asean Business Opportunities and Challenges”, held virtually via Zoom on May 20.
Indian Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan — who had held the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change portfolio in 2018 — had said (in that same year) that India has the potential to become a significant player in international bamboo export.
Speaking at a meeting held with the representatives of International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR) in New Delhi in 2018, Vardhan emphasised the thrust provided by the government to develop the bamboo sector to address various issues such as livelihood, climate change mitigation and land degradation.
Ramesh suggested the setting up of a special council in the north-eastern states to facilitate businesses besides having a one-stop centre to assist in answering all the questions pertaining to trade and businesses.
“With a combined population of 1.9 billion people (India and Asean), and existence of bilateral trade agreements such as the Asean-India Free Trade Agreement (AIFTA) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), opportunities in Asean and India abound for our business entities,” he said.
He also said India’s north-eastern states — Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura — constituting eight per cent of the country’s geographical area, has progressed in its way of achieving growth in the services sector and also tourism.
Ramesh, who welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stimulus package worth 20 trillion rupees (RM1.14 trillion) for the coronavirus-battered economy, said the SMEs could start looking for possible tie-ups in the country as it will start easing some restrictions on businesses and people’s movement soon. — Bernama