India will lead South Asian growth: Singapore Dy PM

Sounding cautious about India's tense relationship with Pakistan, Teo said: "India, as the largest South Asian country, plays a significant role in shaping the destiny of South Asia. A rising economic and geopolitical powerhouse, India generates more than 80 per cent of the region's Gross Domestic Product," added Teo, who is also Singapore's Defence Minister.

He noted that India has made impressive advances in the economic realm -- its IT and services sectors are world-renowned. He also noted the Indian government's continuing push to undertake the difficult reforms to sustain growth. Teo was addressing the sixth International Conference on South Asia, organised by Singapore’s Institute of South Asian Studies.

Touching on some challenging environment in South Asia, he noted that both India and Pakistan know they need to keep their often tense relations from boiling over. Addressing the conference on the region's challenges and prospects, Teo said Sri Lanka and Bangladesh also have the potential to do well.

Sri Lanka has emerged from a decades-long civil war, and is enjoying an economic revival, while Bangladesh is another South Asian country that has made steady economic improvement. "Pakistan shares the potential of its neighbours even though it faces challenges posed by extremist violence," added Teo.

But he stressed that Pakistan would remain an important front for overcoming the global threat by extremist terrorism. Teo said greater regional cooperation would contribute to both – providing South Asian countries with a means of overcoming transnational challenges such as the threat of terrorism, criminal activity or climate change, and also for jointly exploiting their potential in trade and development.

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