Guwahati (Sputnik): The northeastern part of India which shares a long stretch of border with China is for the first time ready to welcome Chinese investments, Himanta Biswa Sarma, a prominent face of the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) told Sputnik. By doing so, India aims to boost bilateral trade with China by at least 20% in the next few years.
"They are welcome but all Chinese investment has to qualify the guidelines, security clearance and other norms which are in existence," Himanta Biswa Sarma told Sputnik in an exclusive interview at his residence in Guwahati.
Sources told Sputnik that China's pharmaceutical companies may take lead in investment in this part of India. Earlier this week, Pema Khandu, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, another northeastern state of India, pitched for increased border trade with China and Myanmar using the 3057 kilometer historic Stillwell Road that begins in Assam and ends in China's Yunnan province after passing through Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar's Kachin state.
"We need to look at this region from the lens of trade. If there can be a trade (with China) through Nathu La pass in Sikkim or through Lipulekh pass in Uttarakhand, why can't there be trade through Stillwell Road," Pema Khandu said in a recent conference?
Meanwhile, the Indian government is considering opening up its northeastern route for China to connect with Bangladesh's Chittagong port for Ocean trade. Discussions are on between the two countries on that front, according to highly placed sources.
"In the last two years, dredging in Barak and Brahmaputra River for improving connectivity with Bangladesh is going on. I think it will take another three-four years to see the physical infrastructure and final result in terms of improved trade and commerce," Himanta Biswa Sarma told Sputnik.