India, Bangladesh cross-border trade looking up

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Agartala, Dec.2 (ANI): Cross-border trade between India and Bangladesh is looking up, and this will go a long way in countering the threat of terrorism in the South Asian region, said Bangaldesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni recently.

Moni, who undertook a visit of India in the latter half of November, used the two-day trip to boost cross-border trade and business with the country's eight northeastern states.

She visited Tripura along with a 30-member delegation and participated in boundary talks between India and Bangladesh.

Her visit was significant because as it signalled that India believes that the development and security of the northeastern states is intimately connected to the growth and development of Bangladesh and Myanmar.

According to an agreement signed between both countries, Bangladesh will provide access to the Ashuganj Port to facilitate transportation of dimensional consignments for the Talatana power project in Tripura.

India has also agreed to build the Akhaura-Agartala Railway Link.

"We have two ports - Chittagong and Mongla and want that these to be used as the main centre of business in this region. These ports should not only be used by India and Bangladesh, but other neighbouring countries like Bhutan and Nepal should also use the facility for the prosperity of this region," said Moni.

The Bangladesh foreign minister also laid the foundation of a memorial, the "India-Bangladesh Maitri Uddan", to be built as a tribute to Indian soldiers and Bangladeshi freedom fighters that sacrificed their lives during the 1971 Indo-Pak War that eventually led to the creation of Bangladesh.

Moni also addressed a business conference in Agartala. The seminar was titled "Northeast India and Bangladesh: Strengthening ties".

The focus of the meet was to encourage joint policies to promote waterways and railways transport.

Bangladesh currently exports garments, cosmetics, fish, raw jute, soaps, juices, spices, bricks, cement, PVC pipes, CI sheets, rods and other consumer products to northeast India.

"Northeast India is going to be one of the main electricity hubs for the whole country. So electricity based industry any other small and medium sized industry it can flourish in this region particularly in the state of Tripura where electricity will be available 24 hours 365 days uninterrupted. So that can give real boast and impetus to business and investment," said Satinder Kumar Dubey, Managing Director, ONGC Tripura Power Corporation.

Abdul Matlub Ahmad, the president of the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: "Tripura is an attractive destination because energy is there, the DONER Ministry and Northeastern state are offering excellent terms to the investors both abroad and Indians. These two are attracting, so large industries which are now operating in Bangladesh or who would Like to set up industry in Bangladesh in future are now considering changing the site to Agartala. Trend to invest in Agartala is changing and that is not only from India but also from Bangladesh."

Besides Bangladesh, BIMSTEC nations recently came together in Guwahati to boost trade with the northeastern states.

The forum of Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Srilanka, Thailand, Indonesia and Nepal looks towards combining the Look West Policy of Thailand with India's Look East Policy.

"The volume of trade between both the countries is gradually increasing. And in Northeast, Bangladeshi products are largely popular and in future the trade in the region is likely to go up," said Bangladesh Industries Minister Dilip Barua.

The northeast market is estimated to be worth over 20 billion dollars.

India plans to tap this potential and to bring economic prosperity and peace in the northeast region by developing good relations with its neighbours. (ANI)

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