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Sat, 07 Dec 2019

Northeast Today

Trade Between Bangladesh and the North Eastern Region

Trade Between Bangladesh and the North Eastern Region
October 23
09:00 2019

NET Bureau

Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi on Tuesday asserted that both Bangladesh and the North Eastern Region could earn huge benefits from improved physical connectivity and people-to-people contact.

“Hence it is important to invest in upgrading and expanding road and rail network with the North East,” Munshi said.
Addressing the first-ever India-Bangladesh Stakeholders’ Meet organized by the State Government here on Tuesday, Munshi said better connectivity will enhance consumers’ welfare through access to goods at a competitive price, enhance profit of the firms through access to cheaper inputs and enhance opportunities of the exporter of finished goods to a new market.

“The recently signed Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) on the use of Chittagong and Mongla ports may be considered as a significant step for ensuring multi-modal connectivity with Northeast India,” he said.

Munshi also said that absence of seamless connectivity between Bangladesh and India along with other countries in South Asia remains one of the key barriers for increasing trade.

“Though a number of projects have been initiated under South Asia Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation to construct roads and upgrade facilities and a number of agreements have been signed but we are yet to reap full benefits of these initiatives,” he said.

Munshi added that Bangladesh strongly believes that proactive actions will help expand its bilateral trade with India, particularly with the North East. The regulatory barriers are now the serious concerns for both Bangladesh and India, he stressed.

In many cases, these are mounting over the time with unpredictable and non-transparent regulatory barriers being the major hindrance of trade facilitation in the regions, Munshi pointed out.

“I believe that the stakeholders meeting in Guwahati will expeditiously look into these issues and provide pragmatic solutions so that these could be immediately implemented for a win-win benefit,” the Bangladesh minister said.

Delivering the inaugural speech at the Stakeholders’ Meeting, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal called for joint efforts to boost the growth potential of India and Bangladesh through expeditious implementation of the agreements inked for reviving the multi-model communication network, which existed through rail, road and waterways in the past.

“A climate of mutual trust and confidence; respect for each other’s sensitivities and concerns; as well as peace and stability in our region are essential for us to realize the enormous potential in our relations”, Sonowal said.

He said that on the backdrop of signing, exchanging and adopting several bilateral agreements between the two countries, the potential for growth of trade between the north-eastern States and Bangladesh has increased manifold.

Sonowal added that tea and petroleum earlier used to reach the Chattogram and Kolkata ports through the Brahmaputra-Padma-Meghna riverine waterway as well as through railway lines passing through present-day Bangladesh. Revival of this communication network would immensely facilitate economic growth of the region, he said.

The Chief Minister further urged the delegates to iron out all issues to finalize the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) to ensure speedy implementation of agreements to ensure access of the Chattogram and Mongla Ports of Bangladesh to the North East and execution of Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal motor vehicle agreement.

Union Minister of State for MoRTH General (Retd.) V.K.Singh while speaking at the Meet said that Assam and North East till recently were perceived as the periphery of the country — quite detached from the mainland.

“But a paradigm shift in the way of thinking has taken place under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The new ‘Act East Policy’ places the North East at the centre of the country’s emerging relations with the countries of South and South East Asia,” Singh said while urging the organizer and participants of the Stakeholders’ Meet to chalk out pragmatic action plans.

Addressing the Stakeholders’ Meet, Economic Affairs Adviser to the PM of Bangladesh AKM Mashiur Rahman said India particularly North East and Bangladesh are geographically located in such a way that both countries cannot remain isolated and have to work together.

The inaugural function of the two-day long stakeholders’ meet was also addressed by High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das, Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India ATM. Rokebul Haque, Secretary to Ministry of Texttiles Ravi Capoor and Secretary to Ministry of Commerce and Industry Dr Anup Wadhawan. Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary gave the welcome address.

Source: The Sentinel

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