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India bugles call for South Asian integration to revive troubled regional economies

Meenakshi Lekhi, Minister of State for External Affairs & Culture

India has underlined the need for closer cooperation between South Asian countries and accelerated regional integration.

Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture, Meenakshi Lekhi stressed the need for a shift from ‘neighborhood first’ to ‘neighborhood fast’ to help achieve faster and closer integration of the region that is currently facing multiple challenges.

Speaking at the 13th South Asia Economic Summit organized by Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) along with the South Asia Centre for Policy Studies (SACEPS), the minister said that it is important for the South Asian countries to scale the summit of economic cooperation to overcome the various crisis situations, including those related to health and supply chain. Citing data showing that South Asia was the world’s least connected region and with the lowest levels of intra-regional trade, Lekhi called for improving the situation through sharing of best practices in capacity building and integration of knowledge-based systems. She said measures need to be taken to strengthen regional multi-modal connectivity as well as digital and financial connectivity.

Her comments assume significance in the backdrop of International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva commending India for its vaccination programme as well as for the timely help extended to South Asia including to Sri Lanka during the economic crisis.

Also read: Roads, rail, air and maritime connectivity in South Asia key to jump starting growth and employment: World Bank