Sushmita Goswami Guwahati, Oct 10 (PTI) In a bid to enhance trade between the northeast region of India and Bangladesh, business associations from both sides are working on setting up a chamber of commerce.
While chambers of commerce for increasing business relations between the two countries are already in existence, the need for a trade body comprising representatives from the northeastern states and the neighbouring country is being pitched, a source said.
Shah Mohammad Tanvir Monsur, the Assistant High Commissioner of Bangladesh in Guwahati, has been advocating enhanced trade relations between NE India and his country.
"My office has always been lending all help and cooperation for improving trade relations between the two countries. We have been supportive of endeavours to bring the two neighbours closer," he told PTI.
"The North East region of India is quite far from the national capital, and when talks between India and Bangladesh are held on trade issues, problems related to the region are often not addressed,” the source said.
The trade between the NE region and Bangladesh is still confined to traditional items such as limestone, coal and stone chips, he said, adding that there is an urgent need to expand the commodity basket.
"North-East India and Bangladesh have a natural advantage to increase trade ties as the NE region shares international boundary with the neighbouring country. But this advantage hasn’t been exploited to its potential. That is why the proposal for forming a chamber of commerce especially for this region comes to the fore," the source said.
A preliminary discussion among traders from both sides has already been held, and since such a chamber of commerce would be a private body, there would not be much difficulty in forming it, he said.
A directory of contact details of major exporters and importers of NE India and Bangladesh was published by a private body last year, and the initiative was applauded by the trading community, the source said.
Need for revisiting current models of development to accelerate growth as well as to ensure more productive relations between the two countries was also highlighted at a seminar on India-Bangladesh relations, with a focus on North East India, by the Indian Army here in September.
It was also pointed out that geopolitical considerations must not overshadow trade relations between the two neighbours.
Shamsher M Chowdhury, a former Bangladeshi diplomat, had stressed on the importance of seamless connectivity between the two countries, while former Indian Ambassador to Syria, Afghanistan and Myanmar Gautam Mukhopadhaya had said more investments were needed in increasing productivity in the NE region. He had emphasised on the need to expand the number of trading items with Bangladesh, currently confined to extracted natural resources.
The trade between the two countries was recorded at USD 9.5 billion in 2019, of which India’s export to Bangladesh was valued at USD 8.2 billion.