Bangladesh and India will set up border haats (markets) in April to promote trade and ease problems faced by the local populace, officials said.
The markets will come up following last month's visit to New Delhi by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The date chosen for the opening of the border markets is April 13, which is the Bangla New Year - Pahela Baishakh.
Initially, three border points have been selected for the markets. They will be set up over 50 meters of area on both sides of the border.
The markets will be set up at the border points between Sonarhat under Gosain Ghat in Sylhet and Linkhat in India; between Lawar Ghar under Taherpur upazila in Sunamganj and Kalia Char in India; and between Balia Bari under Bajitpur upazila in Kurigram and Naliakata in India.
Special mechanisms will be put in place, including barbed wire fencing of the markets, to make sure shoppers return to their own countries. But they will need no visa to enter the border markets.
The decision was taken after an elaborate discussion at a meeting between Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Rajeet Mitter and Bangladesh Commerce Minister Faruk Khan, The Daily star said Wednesday.
The joint communique issued after the New Delhi talks agreed to establish border markets on a pilot basis at selected areas to allow cross-border trade in specific products.
Border markets are much-sought among the people on both sides of the border living in remote enclaves and hilly areas as they find it difficult to buy and sell products needed in everyday life.
The commodities to be sold in the border markets are local agricultural products, fresh and dry fish, poultry, spices, forest products, dairy, and products of local cottage industries including furniture, utensils, and iron agricultural equipment.
India had proposed setting up 22 border markets.
What is now the border between the two countries used to be dotted by markets when India was undivided. Some of them continued to exist until the independence of Bangladesh.
The two countries share a 4,096-km border. In 2008-09 India imported $277 million worth of products from Bangladesh, while Bangladesh imported products worth $2,843 million from India, according to the commerce ministry.
Trade experts of both countries, however, believe unofficial trade between the two countries surpasses the volume of official trade.