Staff Reporter GUWAHATI, Oct 22 - India and Bangladesh today vowed to open new vistas of bilateral trade and cooperation by according top priority to improved connectivity and infrastructure and thereby harnessing the hitherto unexplored economic prospects between the two neighbouring countries.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal along with other dignitaries at the India-Bangladesh Stakeholders’ Meet in Guwahati on Tuesday. – UB Photos
The two-day India-Bangladesh Stakeholders’ Meet, which began here today, also discussed threadbare the possible areas of engagements, and ways and means to do away with the existing bottlenecks, especially vis-à-vis non-tariff issues like regulatory barriers that is in need of pragmatic solutions.
The specific issues of mutual interest, which were discussed today included synergy in border trade, improvement of waterways navigation, especially night navigation along with port infrastructure, dredging of waterways, improved land and water and air connectivity between the two countries. Aspects related to the economic dynamics of the Northeast India vis-à-vis its ties with Bangladesh also found place during separate discussions among various stakeholders of both the countries.
Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi was the chief guest of the meet, which was attended Chief Ministers of Assam and Tripura, Sarbananda Sonowal and Biplab Kumar Deb respectively, besides senior diplomats and officials of both the countries.
Inaugurating the two-day meet, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that the meet holds immense potential for strengthening India’s partnership with Bangladesh.
“Our relationship with Bangladesh is based on shared culture, literature and language. I strongly feel that a climate of mutual trust and confidence; respect for each other’s sensitivities and concerns; and, peace and stability in our region are essential for us to realize the enormous potential in our relations,” Sonowal said.
“Incidentally, today India and Bangladesh are blessed to have the political leadership who are very keen to forge a more meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship and are taking many pragmatic steps in this regard,” he said.
“The meet is also a great opportunity for both the countries to leverage on the proximity to actualize on the tremendous potential of multi-modal connectivity to reach greater heights in trade and commerce. The potential for growth of trade between the northeastern States and Bangladesh has increased manifold. The BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement, the Port Use Agreement and Use of Cross Border Inland Waterways and access of the Chattogram and Mongla ports to the northeast of India foretell great prospect for growth of the entire region,” he added.
Speaking during the inaugural session, the Tripura Chief Minister also highlighted the prospects of economic and cultural ties between the two neighbours and underlined how the trade prospects of the region is intertwined with that of the neighbouring country.
Speaking on the occasion, Union Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways General (retired) VK Singh stressed on the need to have a symbiotic relationship between the two countries. “Both the countries need to integrate for mutual benefits. If the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement cannot be implemented in its entirety, we should explore the idea to implement in parts involving India and Bangladesh. I want the meet to produce an actionable roadmap through which the hurdles can be overcome,” Singh said.
Earlier, State Commerce and Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said that the geographical proximity of both the countries is yet to be harnessed to the optimum level and that a lot needs to be done to add fillip to the bilateral trade ties.
Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director, Asian Developmental Bank, ATM Rokebul Haque, Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India, Riva Ganguly Das, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh, Ravi Capoor, Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Textiles and Anup Wadhawan, Commerce Secretary, Government of India were also present, among others.