Meghalaya CM's road trip to Bangladesh to explore trade

Meghalaya CM being welcomed at India-Bangladesh border at Dawki on Tuesday. (DH photo)

A Meghalaya government team led by Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Tuesday began a 800-kms long road trip to Bangladesh with an aim to explore trade opportunities with the neighbouring country, with which the state shares 443-km border.

The convoy of the 20-member delegation having three ministers, officials, tour operators and entrepreneurs started from the state capital Shillong and entered Bangladesh through Dawki border and reached Sylhet town. Sangma addressed a meeting with Sylhet Chamber of Commerce and discussed areas of trade and export in the afternoon.

During the 16-hour-long road trip, the team will visit Dhaka, Dalu and will come back to Tura in Garo Hills in Meghalaya before they reach Shillong. 

"The idea is to try to improve our trade ties with Bangladesh and people-to-people relations. The trade between India and Bangladesh at present stands at 10 million dollar but Meghalaya's share is a meagre 7% despite sharing 443-km-long borders.

So definitely we are losing something out there. So through this road trip, we will try to explore trade opportunities in sectors like agriculture, horticulture, tourism, power. We will meet Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, commerce minister, entrepreneurs and students to explore new business," Sangma said at Dawki border. 

A statement issued by the Chief Minister's office later said as a rapidly growing market, Bangladesh has been a destination for exports of coal, limestone and boulder stone from Meghalaya. "The government intends to further improve the border trade through the two-existing border Haats (markets) at Kalaichar and Balat and to set up new border Haats.

In terms of tourism, Meghalaya offers pristine hill stations, rich culture and music, exciting adventure sports and serene eco-tourism venues. By strengthening cooperation with tour operators of Meghalaya and Bangladesh and developing new historic circuits, Meghalaya government aims to double the tourist footfalls from Bangladesh in the next two years.

We also want to increase exports of niche agricultural and horticultural products to neighboring countries, especially Bangladesh. Bangladesh is an important potential market for power from Meghalaya.

We also have the excellent educational institutions in Shillong, where Bangladesh students can study. Education can be a transformative opportunity for a young country like Bangladesh which has nearly 30% of their population in the 10-24 age group," said the statement.

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