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A car rally to boost Asean trade

November 11, 2004 10:42 IST

In an effort to build connectivity with eight countries in East Asia and India, a car rally with unique characteristics is being organised to pave the way for an era of increased trade ties in the region, say organisers.

"Ahead of the first India-Asean car rally to be flagged of on November 22 from Guwahati by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a cross-country rally will start next week from four centres to cover the entire country," said Ratika Jain, director, Confederation of Indian Industry, (northern India).

"Teams will start from Shimla, Gandhinagar, Panjim, and Kanyakumari on November 13 and 14 and converge in Guwahati in Assam a week later," she said.

"Currently, the two-way trade between India and the Asean (Association of South-East Nations) countries is $10 billion, which is all set to go up in the coming years as India begins to focus East," she added.

"The Indian section of the rally called 'Chalo! Asean' will pass through nearly all the states in India, covering 14,000 km before ending at Guwahati," Jain said.

Organisers say it's a "goodwill rally" rather than a competitive one. It includes people of diverse backgrounds including entrepreneurs, industrialists, bureaucrats, journalists, among others.

"Chalo! Asean" is being sponsored by Tata Motors, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd, and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd.

"Starting the rally from Guwahati emphasises the centrality of India's eastern region and in particular the north-eastern states, in consonance with the government's 'Look East' policy," Jain said.

"Midway the rally will be received in Vientiane, Laos, on November 30 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during his visit to that country to attend the third Asean–India summit," she said.

It ends on December 11 at Batam in Indonesia.

"The rally has been designed to draw attention to the tremendous potential that exists for socio-economic partnerships in the region, given the land connectivity of India with the Asean states," an organiser said.

Three rallyists from each of the nine countries (27 in all, including India) will take part in the event. Depending upon the response, the rally can become an annual feature.

The rally will pass through India, Cambodia, Laos, Mynmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.
Baldev S Chauhan in Shimla