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India, Bangladesh officials meet to enhance trade

The Joint Working Group on trade will finalise strategies to further enhance the export-import business between the two neighbours.

india Updated: Jul 05, 2006 15:04 IST

Talks of the India-Bangladesh Joint Working Group (JWG) on trade began here on Wednesday to finalise strategies to further enhance the export-import business between the two neighbours.

"The two-day meeting will decide to strengthen the trade-related infrastructure along the border and simplify prevailing norms and formalities," said Lok Ranjan, secretary-cum-commissioner of Tripura's industries and commerce department.

"Though Bangladesh has a trade deficit with India, it is surplus with the northeastern states and the export-import business between the (northeastern) region and Bangladesh has scope for further increase," Ranjan said.

"Indian proposals like strengthening the road and waterway transport between the northeast and Bangladesh, launching of the Agartala-Kolkata direct bus service via Dhaka, setting up of a trans-shipment facility at Chittagong and Ashuganj ports will also be discussed in the meeting," he said.

The meeting will also discuss setting up of "border huts" along the border, improvement of facilitation systems and tariff-related problems.

Agricultural products, fruits, edible oil, fish, egg, milk and milk-based items are to be sold in the border huts while cement, coal, stones and limestone are the other items much in demand on either side of the border.

At present, the daily volume of trade between India and Bangladesh is estimated between Rs 8.5 million ($184,630) and Rs 9 million in the 20-odd land customs stations (LCS) located along the northeastern region of India.

MVPC Sastri, joint secretary in the commerce ministry, is heading the Indian delegation while additional secretary in the commerce ministry Elias Ahmed is leading the Bangladesh team.

Senior officials of the commerce and industries departments of the five bordering states - West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura - are also participating in the meeting, being held in the northeastern state for the first time.

Last month, India's minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh had said that Rs.2 billion had been allocated for the development of five trade centres at Sutarkandhi and Karimganj in Assam, Demagiri in Mizoram, Dawki in Meghalaya and Moreh in Manipur.

"To chalk out certain strategies for further increasing trade and exports from the northeast, the ministry has decided to organise a summit of the eight chief ministers of the northeast in August," the Indian minister said at Jorhat in Assam.