NEW DELHI: With China looking to improve trade and connectivity with Bangladesh, where the government seems to be warming up to Chinese overtures, India looks to provide a leg-up to connectivity with its eastern neighbour. The government is hoping that the first trial run last week of a container ship from Kolkata to Agartala through Chattogram Port of Bangladesh will go a long way in improving trade connectivity with Dhaka, apart from facilitating development of India’s northeast.
According to Indian authorities, 8 routes have been identified for improving northeast’s connectivity with Bangladesh. “Both sides recognise that increasing connectivity through air, water, rail and road offers mutually beneficial opportunity for enhancing economic cooperation between Bangladesh and the northeastern states of India and beyond,” said a source.
The two sides had last year finalised Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports for movement of goods to and from India, particularly to and from the northeastern region. This agreement allows movement of goods in Bangladesh through waterways, rail, road or multi-modal transport.
The eight routes identified for access to the northeast via Bangladesh comprise Chattogram/Mongla Port to Agartala (Tripura) via Akhura, Chattogram/Mongla Port to Dawki (Meghalaya) via Tamabil, Chattogram/Mongla Port to Sutarkandi (Assam) via Sheola and Chattogram/Mongla Port to Srimantpur (Tripura) via Bibirbazar and vice versa.
“Thus the trial run assumes significance as this will lead to development of the northeast region and enhance India’s connectivity with Bangladesh,”said an official.
Despite a pro-India government in Dhaka, the Indian government realises there’s a need for special attention to ties with Bangladesh at a time China is working overtime to improve trade and connectivity with the South Asian country.
China has provided an important trade boost to the country by announcing tariff exemption for 97 per cent of Bangladeshi products effective from July 1. The decision came a month after Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping held discussions to upgrade their bilateral relations during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Courtesy – Times Of India