Press Release Address by Foreign Secretary at_the Regional Connectivity Conference SARCC

Remarks by Vijay Gokhale, Foreign Secretary of India
New Delhi, November 01, 2018

India’s efforts to build connectivity can only succeed in synergistic partnership with other countries sharing the same purpose and objectives. I am happy to note a similar level of ambition, effort and purpose by the U.S. and other countries like Japan.

Coordination of connectivity efforts in third countries forms an essential part of our trilateral cooperation with the U.S. and Japan. We see prospects for more impactful cooperation following the passage of the BUILD Act in the U.S. Congress. Similarly, India and Japan are committed to working on the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor.

As a member of multilateral/regional groups and mechanisms such as the ASEAN, BIMSTEC, Mekong Ganga Cooperation and SAARC, India has been promoting the connectivity agenda very actively and non-reciprocally in these groups. In SAARC, the South Asia Satellite will provide access to wide ranging applications in health, education, disaster response, weather forecasting and communications, enabling deeper connectivity. India’s digital villages in Mekong countries promote digital connectivity and knowledge partnership.

India is negotiating an Agreement on Maritime Transport with ASEAN and exploring ways to link our connectivity initiatives with the ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity. We have a vision to extend the Trilateral Highway further to Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam. We are currently discussing a Coastal Shipping Agreement and a Motor Vehicle Agreement in the BIMSTEC format and also in the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) group. Cooperation under BBIN is also being discussed in the areas of power and water resources management.

In terms of financing, besides World Bank, ADB and other traditional sources, India welcomes the role of new institutions such as the New Development Bank and the AIIB in promoting regional connectivity. As a founding member of these new institutions, India is playing a role to ensure that the best practices learnt from existing multilateral development banks and financial institutions are practiced by these new bodies.

Beyond governments, the involvement of the private sector will be critical for financial and technical resources needed for massive connectivity and infrastructure demands in the Indo-Pacific. The new U.S. initiatives in the region — like promoting digital economy, energy and infrastructure with an initial seed capital of U.S. $ 113 million; and passage of the BUILD Act which has cleared the way for the establishment of a new International Development Finance Corporation — herald a new model of private-public partnership for connectivity. We wholeheartedly welcome that and look for opportunities to work with these institutions to promote shared connectivity objectives in the Indo-Pacific.

To conclude, connectivity is not just a new byword for globalization but an urgent need for all growth-oriented economies. Certainly a lot more work is due to address the various practical aspects of connectivity and to guide the work and priority of governments. I hope that this conference will address some of those issues over the next two days and produce some ‘out-of-the-box’ ideas which can supplement the tools already at our disposal.

I wish the conference all the success. More details

For more details, please contact:
Susan Mathew,