In a bid to give trade, investment and economic engagement between the two nations a big push, India has asked Bangladesh to allow the use of its territory to enable Indian companies operating in Bangladesh to export their goods through North-East states corridor and also sought earmarking land for setting up India-specific special economic zone (SEZ).

This is being seen as an attempt by India to narrow down the bilateral trade gap that presently heavily loaded in favour of India. At present Bangladesh exports to India stand at around 536 million and exports from India to Bangladesh stand at $4.5 billion.

This facilitation on the India-Bangladesh border was sought by a delegation led Commerce Secretary, S.R. Rao when they met the Bangladesh Finance Minister, Abul Mall Abdul Muhith, Foreign Minister, Dipu Moni and Commerce Minister, Ghulam Muhammed Quader along with FICCI president, R.V. Kanoria in different meetings. Both are here in connection with the “India Show” being jointly organised by Commerce Ministry and FICCI.

Mr. Rao said the trade volume between the two countries was far below the potential and urged the Bangladesh Government to allow use of Bangladesh territory by Indian companies to export Indian goods to N-E region Indian States which will not only reduce costs but also facilitate border trade. The multi-modal transport, especially waterways and railways, could play a crucial role in giving a big fillip to the trade volumes between the two countries. It would also encourage Indian investments in Bangladesh which in turn would give jobs to youth in the country and give a boost to the economy.

Mr. Kanoria said it was important the Bangladesh should identify land for setting up a special economic zone (SEZ) for the Indian companies wanting to invest in Bangladesh. “We want a separate special economic zone to invest in and also to re-export to India. We have submitted a proposal in this regard also,” Mr. Kanoria added. The current balance of bilateral trade between the two countries heavily tilts towards India, as Bangladesh is a net importer of Indian food items, cotton, vehicles and other equipment.

The delegation also sought improvement of infrastructure along the border areas in order to give a major push to trade and trading activity. “The best value addition at the cheapest rates is possible only in Bangladesh. Bangladesh should not consider India as a competitor rather the country should extend its cooperation to India for future development of trade of both the countries,” he remarked.

Abdul Matlub Ahmad, president of India Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry was of the view that Bangladesh has failed to fully utilise the trade benefit that arose out of the removal of duty by India on almost all products of Bangladesh. This is because Bangladesh's export basket is not so rich and therefore it was important that Indian companies come and invest in a big way in the country.

Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) president Kazi Akram Uddin Ahamed said investment in Bangladesh is well protected by law, and sought Indian investment in textile, electronics, information technology, frozen food, leather, ceramic, light engineering and shipbuilding sectors.

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