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Positive response from India on land transit

25 August 2014 bdnews24.com

Bangladesh has received a "positive response" from India regarding transit passage to Nepal and Bhutan through its territory, a special adviser to the bilateral chamber has said.
Abdul Matlub Ahmad of the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) said the positive response came from India's junior external affairs minister VK Singh, who left Dhaka Sunday after attending a business conclave.
IBCCI, jointly with the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Kolkata, organised the meet with a special focus on enhancing trade and connectivity with the neighbouring north-eastern region.
Singh is also the state minister with independent charge for development of the Indian northeast.
Matlub Ahmad, briefing journalist after the conclave, said Prime Minister wanted transit and transhipment facility during her meeting with Singh on Saturday.
He said, they also received positive response from Singh during their conclave.
Bangladesh's trucks are only allowed to go 200 metres inside the Indian territory."We have export and import from Nepal and Bhutan. If we get the facility, our businesses with them (Nepal and Bhutan) will be easier," he said.
He said, Singh did not give them any specific time frame. "But he was very positive".
Singh made his maiden visit to Dhaka at the invitation of the business group after assuming office in May.
He belongs to the last batch of Indian army officers who fought in the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. He retired as chief of army in 2012.
He asked businessmen of both sides to explore his government's neighbourhood policy for mutual benefit.
In the conclave, he also urged chamber leaders to come up with specific proposals so that the government could implement them to enhance bilateral trade.
Bangladesh has been enjoying duty- and quota-free access to the Indian market since November 2011 for all items except 25 tariff lines consisting of tobacco, spirits and alcohol.
But its exports to India, valued at $563.9 million in the last fiscal, were the highest ever against India's export of over $4.5 billion.
Businessmen claimed there were many bottlenecks impeding business with India despite the removal of tariff barriers.
Singh said Bangladesh's business community had not been able to understand India's markets.
"….that is why you have not been able to fully exploit this duty-free access.
"There is a need to understand the market and need for us to liberalise the linkages of business community in India," he suggested.
The Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka, Pankaj Saran, has also urged Bangladesh's businessmen to be "proactive".
He suggested the holding of road shows, sending business delegation to various Indian states to understand the market and create linkages with businessmen.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, and Commerce and Industry Minister of Tripura Tapan Chakraborty also joined the business conclave and invited Bangladesh businessmen for joint investments in their states.
The India-Bangladesh Chamber President Mohammad Ali said at the press briefing they would issue a joint statement on Monday.
ICC President Roopen Roy said they would present "specific proposals" to the both governments.
He said their proposals would be on how the transhipment process could be made easier and how investments could be made in both ways.
He said they would also recommend joint investments in power, agriculture and forestry with the north-eastern states.
He advocated connectivity with the Indian northeast for the region's development that he said would also benefit Bangladesh.

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