Seeking expand of trade and economic engagement, India on Monday asked Bangladesh to allow smaller ships to operate between Chittagong and Visakhapatnam to help faster movement of goods and reduce the trans-shipment cost as most of the present trade through sea route happens via Singapore inflating costs.

The issue came up for discussion during the bilateral talks between the Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma and Bangladesh’s Commerce Minister, Ghulam Mohammad Quader held here. Stating that India was seeking to increase trade with Bangladesh and wanted to give a new impetus to exports from Bangladesh into India, Mr. Sharma told his counterpart the India was strongly in favour of bringing down the massive trade imbalance in favour of India. “As directed by Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh to engage with its neighbours, we are constantly working on not only reducing the tariff and non-tariff barriers but also on how to increase imports from Bangladesh in India. We are for creating the right kind of economic environment for our neighbours and our actions should provide benefit to the youth of Bangladesh in shape of employment and business opportunities,'' Mr. Sharma remarked.

He also informed his Bangladesh counterpart that in order to facilitate border trade, work on upgrading infrastructure was being taken up at Petropole, Dawki; Akhaura Land Customs Stations to Integrated Checks Posts has already begun on the India side. In addition to the Border Haats at Baliamri-Kalaichar and Lauwaghar-Balat at Meghalaya, two new Border Haats at Srinagar and Kamla Sagar in Tripura have also been approved.

Mr. Sharma informed that upgrading Hili, Changrabanda, Sutarkandi and Kawarpuchia land check posts will be taken up in next phase. He also informed that on Bangladesh’s request, work on upgradation of warehouses in Petrapole and Dawki will be taken up on priority. India also informed that to improve trade infrastructure and connectivity, Department of Border Management under the Home Ministry was developing seven Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) on India-Bangladesh Border -- Petrapole, Agartala, Dawki, Hili, Chandrabangha, Sutarkhandi and Kawarpuchiah. The ICP at Agartala is expected to be completed by the middle of next year and Dawki by the end of 2013 or early 2014.

Further, eight Land Custom Stations (LCS) are being developed along the Indo-Bangladesh- Borosora, Dalu, Ghasupara, Mahadipur, Hilli, Phullbari, Srimantpur and Gojadanga. Mr. Sharma also sought removal of port restrictions on items like yarn, milk powder, fish, sugar, potatoes which are affecting Indian exports particularly from West Bengal and North eastern States.

More In: Economy | Business