Sixth India-CLMV business conclave held virtually to build bridges

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), in partnership with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, held the sixth India-CLMV business conclave: Building Bridges for Constructive Development virtually with Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV).

The two-day event earlier this month created a platform to strengthen India’s cooperation with the CLMV countries. It had sectoral sessions, country-focus sessions and participation from government and industry from the CLMV region including India.

From Cambodia, Chhuan Dara, secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, represented Pan Sorasak, from the Ministry of Commerce. The ministers of commerce, minister of state for external affairs, the secretary of state from India and CLMV countries participated in the inaugural session of the business conclave. India’s Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan highlighted India’s cooperation with the CLMV region right through the COVID-19 crisis, including the provision of medicines and medical supplies to the region and the training of medical personnel from the region.

“India seeks to enhance its cooperation and collaboration with the CLMV region in terms of developing a vaccine for COVID-19 and would be willing to share the vaccine as and when it is ready,” added Muraleedharan.

Muraleedharan also mentioned that India’s vision of the Indo-Pacific, of which CLMV countries are a part, envisages a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region with an emphasis on Asean centrality, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations in the region, peaceful resolution of disputes, avoidance of use or threat of use of force and adherence to international laws, rules and regulations.  Muraleedharan invited CLMV countries to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA), Coalition
for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and participate in activities of the seven pillars of Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI), which has synergies with the Asean Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP).

The Secretary of State at Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce Chuuan Dara explained about the effective steps taken by Cambodia to control the COVID-19 pandemic and also touched upon strengthening the trade facilitation mechanism in Cambodia, improving logistics, single-window clearance for setting up new businesses, regional connectivity, an improved position of Cambodia in Word Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index among Asean nations, advantages of investing in Cambodia because of the availability of trade preference schemes with the EU, US and Canada plus simplified customs procedures and invited Indian companies to invest more in Cambodia.

A separate “Country Session” on Cambodia was organized that was moderated by Ambassador Anil Wadhwa, formerly Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs of India,  who is familiar with the Asean region, with participation from Dr Devyani Khobragade, ambassador of India to Cambodia, Ung Sean, ambassador of Cambodia to India, Meng Nimol, director-general of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce and adviser to the Ministry of Commerce, Soun Sophal, director of public relations and promotion of private investment at the Council for the Development of Cambodia and representatives of TVS Motor Co and PWC Cambodia.

While the Cambodian participants explained the investment climate in Cambodia, simplification of procedures for registration of companies, tax benefits, among other incentives, Khobragade highlighted the sectors and investment opportunities available in Cambodia to Indian companies and encouraged micro, small and medium enterprises from India to set up manufacturing units in Cambodia.

The CLMV countries have surfaced as key growth points for the Asean region, giving it a wider market outreach resulting in preferential or free trade agreements with larger economies of the world.

Towards this end, a project development fund of $75 million has been created by the government of India in order to boost investments from the Indian private sector in the CLMV region.