Union commerce & industry and railways minister Piyush Goyal on Friday urged the Indian industry to be a part of the Bangladesh’s growth story with greater investment in infrastructure, technology and energy that will help in creating more balanced trade between the two countries.
Bangladesh is India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia. India’s exports to Bangladesh for the financial year 2018-19 was $9.21 billion and imports from Bangladesh for the same period was 1.22 billion, the commerce ministry said in a statement.
India and Bangladesh are not competitors but collaborators in making both countries prosperous and ensuring a better future for their people, Goyal said at the India-Bangladesh Business Forum held in New Delhi where Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was also present.
India stands committed to every request that Bangladesh has in railways sector because the connectivity that the expansion in railways will bring to both countries will boost trade and also give greater and smoother access to the North East region of India, Goyal assured the visiting Prime Minister.
Bangladesh Prime Minister informed that three Special Economic Zones (SEZs) have been set up in Bangladesh for Indian investors and hoped that this would broaden the export base of Bangladesh.
On this occasion, two government-to-business (G2B) MoUs were signed between Bangladesh and Tech Mahindra and Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority and Adani Ports and SEZs, the statement said.
India and Bangladesh have trade agreement which is facilitative in nature. India and Bangladesh are members of various regional trade agreements including the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), SAARC Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) and the Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) which govern the tariff regimes for trade.
Under SAFTA, India has granted duty free quota free access to Bangladesh on all items except alcohol and tobacco. Various bilateral institutional mechanisms including commerce secretary level meeting, shipping secretary level talks, joint working groups on trade, customs and fisheries and sub-groups on banking and LCS/ICP infrastructure meet regularly.
Four Border Haats, two each in Tripura (Srinagar and Kamalasagar) and Meghalaya (Kalaichar and Balat), have been established for the benefit of communities living along the border areas of both countries. 10 additional border ‘haats’ on the India-Bangladesh border are under implementation, the statement said.
Cumulative foreign direct investment (FDI) from India to Bangladesh has more than doubled from $243.91 million in 2014 to $570.11 million in December 2018. Indian companies have invested in various sectors including telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, FMCG and automobiles sectors in Bangladesh. During Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit in April 2017, 13 agreements worth around $10 billion of Indian investment mainly in power and energy sectors in Bangladesh were signed.
Bangladesh is the biggest development partner of India today. India has extended 3 lines of credits (LOCs) to Bangladesh in the last 8 years amounting to $8 billion.
In addition to LOCs, the Government of India has also been providing grant assistance to Bangladesh for various infrastructure projects such as the Agartala- Akhaura rail link, dredging of inland waterways, India Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline, and High Impact Community Development Projects (HICDPs) in the areas of education, health, water, culture, urban development, disaster management and community welfare.