Speaking at the Digital Conference on Doing Business with Bangladesh: Opportunities and Challenges organized by CII on June 29th, Mr V Muraleedharan, Hon’ble Union Minister of State for External Affairs & Parliamentary Affairs, Government of India, mentioned that “there is a mutual desire to further strengthen the relationship in areas that will help bring benefits to people on the two sides”.
He said that since 2014, there have been major developments in the bilateral relationship, including the two countries having ratified the land boundary agreement, settled maritime boundary and signed agreements on connectivity. India has increased assistance to Bangladesh, making it the largest recipient of our concessional aid, implemented agreement to supply 1076 MW of power to Bangladesh, issued 7.4 million visas to Bangladesh nationals and implemented more than 40 projects in areas such as sanitation, waste management, restoration, health, etc. under grant-in-aid.
The Hon’ble Minister further said that he was certain that cooperation between our two nations can help overcome the economic effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
H E Mr Muhammad Imran, Bangladesh High Commissioner to India, mentioned that the India Bangladesh bilateral relationship today touches almost every aspect of activity including political, trade, investment, security, border, water management, power, cultural exchanges, etc. He said that in the current COVID context, it is more imperative that the two countries complement and cooperate to bring great benefit to both countries in areas where they have competitive advantage.
Ms Riva Ganguly Das, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, emphasized that the geographical proximity and road and river water port connectivity between the two countries provide us many opportunities which we can leverage. She mentioned that turning the COVID crisis into an opportunity, the Indian and Bangladesh railways have worked together to ensure smooth flow of goods through the railway links that exist between the two countries. She noted that Bangladesh railways had increased its monthly allocation of freight trains to Indian railways by approximately thirty-three percent for the month of June which was very positive.
Speaking at the Conference, Mr Sirazul Islam, Executive Chairman, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) emphasized that Energy, Transport and Logistics were emerging as promising sectors between India Bangladesh economic cooperation. Bangladesh has made a number of reforms in various areas for business facilitation in starting a business, construction permit, electricity, registering property and trading across borders.
Mr David Rasquinha, MD, EXIM Bank of India mentioned that it was heartening to know that Bangladesh is projected to have a positive growth rate of 1.6% amidst all other global economies which will experience a negative growth. He emphasized that economic engagement between India and Bangladesh on a bilateral level continues to witness a very substantial increase in the recent years. He mentioned that India was the top supplier of vehicles other than railways and pharmaceuticals, the second largest supplier of cotton and a major exporter in other sectors such as organic chemicals, iron and steel, heavy machinery, etc.
Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General CII, mentioned “we, in Indian Industry, believe that a pandemic such as this only reinforces the need for us to work together and find solutions”. While the SAARC Fund promotes cooperation on a G2G basis, there is much that the private sectors of our two countries can do together. Indian Industry would like to further boost its investments in Bangladesh.
Mr Abdul Matlub Ahmad, President, India Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce & Industry (IBCCI), said that the trade and economic relations between the two countries have been growing rapidly over the last few years.
Mr Sheikh Fazle Islam, President, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FBCCI), mentioned that FBCCI will be entering an MoU to further deepen the two countries’ bilateral economic relationship. He said that there is potential for joint R&D initiatives in the technologies of future especially in the context of the COVID 19 crisis where ‘new manufacturing’ is becoming increasingly important.
This was then followed by a Panel Discussion on “Enhancing India – Bangladesh Trade and Investments” which was chaired by Mr P Harish, Additional Secretary (ER), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. Various senior industry members participated in the discussion. Mr Harish emphasized on bringing down the cost of doing business and also facilitating mutual investments between the two countries and creating value chains in various sectors including textiles, leather, footwear and food processing among others.
29 June, 2020