Guwahati, October 22, 2019:

A two-day Indo-Bangladesh Stakeholders’ Meet is being organized at Guwahati in Assam on October 22 and 23.

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The event was attended by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Minister of Commerce, Government of Bangladesh, Tipu Munshi, Chief Minister of Tripura, Biplab Deb, Minister, Govt. of Assam, Industries & Commerce, Act East Policy Affairs, Chandra Mohan Patowary, Economic Affairs Adviser to the PM of Bangladesh Mashiur A.K.M. Rahman, R Lalzirliana, Minister of Trade Commerce and Industries, Government of Mizoram, Riva Ganguly Das, IFS, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh, Dr. Anup Wadhawan, IAS, Commerce Secretary, Government of India, Ravi Capoor, IAS, Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Textiles,. A.T.M. Rokebul Haque, Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India, Country Director, Asian Development Bank, Kenichi Yokoyama, delegations and media from both the countries.

Addressing the session, Minister, Govt. of Assam, Industries & Commerce, Act East Policy Affairs, Chandra Mohan Patowary mentioned that the North Eastern Region may be landlocked today, but through Act East Policy in 2014, the region has been provided with an opportunity to reinvent itself as the hub of the country’s emerging relations with her eastern neighbours.

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He also stressed on early restoration of railway links between Karimganj (Mahisashan) and Sylhet (Bangladesh). India and Bangladesh has recently concluded the SOP to accord access to vessels from North East India to Chittagong and Mongla ports. In order to effect enhancement of trade, the tariff issues should be sorted out and the non-tariff barriers should be solved. It is also important that our Land Custom Stations with Bangladesh at Sutarkandi, Golakganj, Mankachar and Dhubri, as well as the ones in Tripura, are developed in the right earnest.

In the event, Country Director, Asian Development Bank, Kenichi Yokoyama said 16.4% of Bangladesh’s trade input are received from India out of which 1%- 1.5% is from North East. He mentioned that IBP waterway routes can enhance the connectivity between the two countries. He said that the development of rail routes between India and Bangladesh, transportation of containers and construction of Bangabandhu Bridge can ease the criticality. Moreover, these developments have great potential for NER to become the hub of Industries through planning and regulatory reforms.

Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India, A.T.M. Rokebul Haque, during his address at the two-day Indo-Bangladesh Stakeholders’ meet in Assam, said that the Bangladesh government has decided to purchase diesel from Numaligarh Refinery Limited in Assam. Also, he added that it is initiating multiple steps for developing bilateral ties.
Tripura CM, Biplab Kumar Deb said, “Tripura’s development is not possible without Bangladesh’s support as 80% of Tripura shares its border with Bangladesh.”

“Due to less surface area for water transportation, Tripura is dependent on road connectivity, resulting in huge losses to the State exchequer”, Biplab stated. Terming Northeastern states as “eight Lakshmis”, Biplab said that the 4.5 crore population region is a hub of resources from minerals, oil fields, tourism spots, hornbill, among others.
Mizoram’s Trade and Industries Minister, R Lalzirliana gave an example of the state’s trade with Myanmar and sought government’s initiative to develop the same with the Banglades’s.

Ravi Capoor, IAS, Secretary to the Government of India mentioned that the connectivity was based earlier but was snapped for a couple of decades after partition. He added, “The bilateral ties are all about re-establishing the connectivity now and the resources are highly underutilized which needs to be put into use. 15 days back Standard Operating initiatives was signed giving direct access from Chittagong to India in which Tripura will be most benefitted.”

“To develop this, dredging to be done quickly, ports need to be developed along with night navigation. The roads need to be developed as per Motor Vehicle Agreement signed by BBIN countries. Truck movements to be made so that ports can turn up into activity,” Capoor said.

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