India's relations with both Japan and ASEAN have been growing rapidly as a result of New Delhi's “Act-East Policy”. The Northeast Indian states are beginning to court foreign investment as seen in the maiden Global Investors' Summit in Guwahati, Assam earlier in February last year. In February 2018, the government of Assam inked an agreement with the National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) to construct a 65-storey Twin Towers, in Guwahati, Assam which is being touted as the hub of India's engagement efforts with the ASEAN countries as a part of its “Act-East Policy”.
At the inauguration of India's longest bridge over the Lohit river in Assam (on the third anniversary of his swearing in as the Prime Minister on May 26, 2017), PM Modi noted that “the eastern and north-eastern parts of the country have the greatest potential for economic development, and this bridge is just one element of the Union Government's vision in this regard.”
The development of Northeast India will also be in keeping with the present government's strategy of “Neighbourhood First” as Bhutan and Nepal were the first two countries, which PM Modi visited after taking over as the PM. In addition, PM Modi had invited the Heads of State of all the SAARC countries to his inauguration.
However, although the total trade between India and ASEAN stood at US$58.4 billion in 2016, Northeast India only accounts for a miniscule portion of it in spite of this geographical contiguity. On the other hand, in another worrying development-India made up only 2.6 per cent of ASEAN's total external trade in 2016. In order to bring up development levels in Northeast India to levels in other parts of the country, cooperation with ASEAN and Japan is sine-qua-non. Only this will ensure that the Northeastern part of India will be able to overcome the tyranny of geography.