They welcome the President’s visit to Bangladesh, saying it could not have come at a better time

Exporters to Bangladesh, especially from this part of the country which accounts for the bulk of India-Bangladesh trade, are waiting for the crisis to blow over amid signs of easing. But while doing so, their hitherto glum mood has been uplifted by President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Bangladesh. They say it will help restore confidence.

This thought was echoed by the chairman of CII’s National Committee on Exports, Sanjay Budhia. He said while the disturbances do have a lingering effect, CII is hopeful of ending 2012-13 with India-Bangladesh trade being around the US $ 5.5 billion target set for the year.

According to Union Commerce Ministry officials, trade between April-December 2012 stood at around US $ 4.1 billion.

Traders and exporters said Mr. Mukherjee’s visit will go a long way to boost confidence at this critical time.

“It could not have come at a better time,” Mr. Budhia said, adding that his team comprising one MP each from the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the Left was also very welcome.

Since the outbreak of violence in the neighbouring country, many firms engaged in trade have seen disruptions in their business. This is particularly true for border trade through West Bengal, which accounts for much of the India-Bangladesh trade.

S. R. Saha, a past president of the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce, said his company Delta Fabric & Delta India, has suffered due to frequent bandhs . Mr. Saha’s company exports machinery and yarns to Bangladesh.

“Our consignments going by waterways are getting delayed,” he said.

He welcomed the President’s visit, saying it will help restore the confidence of the exporters and importers.

An executive of the Emami Group, which is also a major exporter of FMCG goods to Bangadesh , said the company feared that competition would take advantage of the situation. “We risk losing some of our market. Some of Emami’s cosmetics have a ready market in Bangladesh and the company is now setting up a unit near Dhaka.”

India’s export basket comprises 98 items. This includes high-end machinery, vehicles and rolling stock, iron and steel, cotton and fabrics, organic and inorganic chemicals, soaps and essential oils, antiques and fish. Bangladesh exported nearly as many goods (80) but the value was far lower. Its main exports comprised fish, tea and textiles.

Between April and December 2012, exports to Bangladesh stood at US $ 3.6 billion, with imports touching US $ 0.43 billion. In 2011-12, trade stood at US $ 4.3 billion.