B'desh, India trade bodies for closer link with NE states

B'desh, India trade bodies for closer link with NE states

B'desh, India trade bodies for closer link with NE states

To tap mutual business benefits between Bangladesh and India, two leading trade bodies of the two countries today decided to prepare a set of suggestions for their governments with special emphasis on landlocked northeastern states.

The decision was taken by the India's Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) after a one-day joint business conclave here, which was attended by minister of state for external affairs Gen (Retd) V K Singh.

The two business bodies would formulate the set of recommendations for the policy actions by both the governments. "We have been challenged by him (Singh) to make an actionable recommendation," ICC president Roopen Roy told media at the end of the conclave.

The day-long conclave reviewed scope for enhanced mutual cooperation with special emphasis on business relations between Bangladesh and India's northeastern states.

The ICC president said northeast could offer Bangladesh the much required power as the region has huge potential to generate electricity while the joint venture industries could be set up also involving other neighbours like Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal.

IBCCI's founder president Abdul Matlub Ahmed told the media briefing that both the countries now appear "more open than before" to boost bilateral businesses for mutual benefit.

Former army chief Singh, who is also the Minister of State with independent charge for Northeast region, earlier inaugurated the conclave, saying the new government in India is willing to maximise business ties with neighbours but nothing would move forward "if we do not find mutual benefit".

"We have a great opportunity that business community needs to explore as much of it is still untapped and should have been tapped," he said.

The Bangladeshi businessmen also demanded that India should expand its transit facilities allowing its trucks to go directly to Nepal and Bhutan. "We want India to give the facility to reduce the transport cost and hazards," incumbent IBCCI president Mohammad Ali said.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during her meeting with Singh last night, had also urged India to provide the transit facility for traders, saying "we also want transit from you, as we are already providing that facilities to you."

Singh, according to Hasina's spokesperson, assured Dhaka of providing the facility, saying "yes, you will get it".

The Indian Minister also said that a railway line should be built along with the existing road that connects Bangladesh with Nepal and Bhutan.

After the conclave, the ICC president further said that Bangladesh should relax its policies to allow its entrepreneurs to invest in India for minimising the existing huge trade gap between two nations.

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