Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Vikram Doraiswamy has said that every effort will be made to unite Bangladesh with all. The progress of the next 50 years of the relationship will be much more stable. In an interview with Prothom Alo on November 21, he expressed his optimism about the relations between the two countries. The interview was taken by Raheed Ejaz , diplomatic correspondent of Prothom Alo . The second and final episode of the interview was published today.
There was a lot of discussion between the two countries about transit and India repeatedly asked for transit through Bangladesh. There is not much talk about transit these days.
We are still interested in increasing bilateral trade with Bangladesh and getting transit through Bangladesh. In this context, I would like to mention three issues.
First, the high cost of management and regulation creates a kind of regulatory system for the movement of goods across the border, which is the biggest non-tariff barrier to trade between the two countries. This increases the price of goods coming to Bangladesh from India. Again, if the product goes from Bangladesh to India, its price also goes up. In order to ensure unrestricted trade, more land ports should be opened, railways, roads and waterways should be connected and infrastructure should be developed, infrastructure such as new customs, warehouses and inland container depots should be constructed and manpower should be recruited. Otherwise, trade and investment between the two countries will not increase.
Secondly, we have already given transit to Bangladesh to bring goods to and from Nepal and Bhutan. We have not added any additional charges for trade in goods between the two countries through transit. We are still waiting for the implementation of the agreement on the use of Chittagong and Mongla ports. The agreement was finalized two years ago. There was also a one-time trial run 18 months ago (during Covid-19). There has been no progress since then.
Third, sub-regional integration is in the interest of all countries in the region. This leads to increased investment in third countries and sub-regions. The demand for multidimensional attachments is much higher. According to a World Bank study published in March this year, Bangladesh’s national income will increase by 18 percent and India’s national income by 7 percent if uninterrupted relations with India are established. Bangladesh’s trade with India will increase by 296 per cent if trade regulations and infrastructure are improved along with integration. So we are always interested in connectivity and improved transportation. How soon it will happen and how smoothly we can do it is a matter of sovereign decision of Bangladesh.
In recent years, India has sought to reactivate its pre-independence ties with Bangladesh by emphasizing integration. Ultimately, in the interest of regional prosperity, Bangladesh is also emphasizing integration as a major means of trade, commerce and investment. How does India view the issue of regional integration involving Bangladesh and Nepal and Bhutan?
Sub-regional connectivity is good for everyone. It benefits everyone. The people of Bangladesh need to understand that India wants to go to the Northeast through Bangladesh. Similarly, Bangladesh wants to go to Myanmar along with Nepal and Bhutan through India. The Prime Minister of India has made this clear. We need your help just as much as we need your help.
Indian trucks can run on Nepal’s roads as there is a reciprocal agreement with Nepal for road communication. Similarly, Nepali trucks get a chance to travel in India. But we do not have such an agreement with Bhutan, Bhutanese trucks can travel on Indian roads up to the Bangladesh border.