India-Bangladesh border haats to boost trade: Anand Sharma (Lead)

July 24th, 2011 - 12:33 am ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Shillong, July 23 (IANS) The traditional border ‘haats’ between Bangladesh and India, which re-opened after 40 years Saturday, will add a new dimension to the economic cooperation between the two countries, India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said.

“The reopening of the border haat is the realisation of a dream and fulfillment of the commitment made in the joint communique issued during the landmark visit of the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in 2010,” Sharma said while inaugurating the haat at Kalaichar in Meghalaya’s West Garo Hills district.

At 10 a.m., Anand Sharma and his Bangladesh counterpart Faruk Khan inaugurated the haat in Kalaichar and Baliamari in Bangladesh’s Kurigram district.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma was also present on the occasion.

The national flags of both countries were hoisted and the respective national anthems sung to mark the event.

The once thriving centres of trade and commerce were shut down after the creation of Bangladesh out of East Pakistan in 1971.

More such haats are to revived in other areas of the state in the coming days.

Stating that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is slated to visit Bangladesh in September this year, Sharma said: “The visit will open up new pathways of cooperation on both sides and will see greater thrust and understanding to develop and promote greater infrastructural linkages, rail networks and integrated check posts.”

“We would strongly encourage Indian investments into Bangladesh and the development of joint ventures between private sector companies on both sides,” the minister said.

He said India would like to partner Bangladeshi companies in building capacities through IT education and training centres.

Echoing his Indian counterpart, Bangladesh Minister for Commerce, Muhammad Faruk Khan said that the reopening of the border haat symbolised the will of the people of the two countries to strengthen their economic ties.

“The bilateral trade relations between India and Bangladesh would be further strengthened during the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka,” Khan said.

The bilateral trade between the two countries has risen from $2.7 billion in 2009-10 to $3.9 billion in 2010-11, showing an increase of around 45 percent. The growth of exports from Bangladesh to India has also shown an increase from $0.25 billion in 2009-10 to $0.39 billion in 2010-11.

India has welcomed the Bangladesh government’s offer for the use of Chittagong and Mongla ports, which is expected to boost trade and development of Bangladesh as well as of northeast India.

India has already finalised and shared the draft modalities with Bangladesh.

India is now able to provide buyers credit to Bangladesh government agencies for large project exports, especially in the infrastructure sector such as roads, bridges, railways, power and housing. The credit, spanning over a period of five to eight years, will be provided under the National Export Insurance Account (NEIA) through Exim Bank.

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