India wants to give new impetus to Bangladeshi exports and bring down trade imbalance

Seeking to expand trade and economic engagement, India has asked Bangladesh to allow smaller ships to operate between Chittagong and Visakhapatnam to help in faster movement of goods and thus reduce transhipment cost. For, much of the sea trade between the two countries now happens via Singapore, inflating cost.

The issue came up during talks between Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and his Bangladeshi counterpart, Ghulam Mohammad Quader, here on Tuesday.

India wanted to give a new impetus to Bangladeshi exports and bring down the massive trade imbalance, which was in favour of India, Mr. Sharma told him.

“As directed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to engage with neighbours, we are constantly working on not only reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers but also on how to increase imports from Bangladesh to 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 the shape of employment and business opportunities.”

Infrastructure was being upgraded at Petropole and Dawki to facilitate border trade. Work on making the Akhaura Land Customs Station into an integrated checkpost (ICP) had already begun on the Indian side. In addition to the border haats (markets) atBaliamri-Kalaichar and Lauwaghar-Balat in Meghalaya, two new ones at Srinagar and Kamla Sagar in Tripura were approved, Mr. Sharma told Mr. Quader.

Upgrading the Hilli, Changrabanda, Sutarkandi and Kawarpuchia land checkposts would be taken up in the next phase. Bangladesh’s request for upgrading warehouses at Petrapole and Dawki would be taken up on priority.

The Department of Border Management under the Home Ministry was developing seven ICPs on the border — Petrapole, Agartala, Dawki, Hilli, Chandrabangha, Sutarkhandi and Kawarpuchiah — to improve trade infrastructure and connectivity. The ICP in Agartala was expected to be completed by the middle of next year and the one at Dawki by early next year.

Further, eight Land Custom Stations were being developed at Borosora, Dalu, Ghasupara, Mahadipur, Hilli, Phullbari, Srimantpur and Gojadanga.

Mr. Sharma sought removal of port restrictions on yarn, milk powder, fish, sugar and potatoes, which are affecting Indian exports, particularly from West Bengal and the north-east.