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PM Modi & Bangladesh PM for Regional economic integration through Transit & Transhipment

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DHAKA: Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and India emphasised the need for setting the stage for facilitating regional economic integration for the benefit of all the parties with enhancing numerous connectivity initiatives through rail, road and waterways, according to a joint statement issued recently on the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh iterated its eagerness to partner in the ongoing initiative of the India – Myanmar – Thailand trilateral highway project for getting access to Southeast Asian countries.

India requested Bangladesh for cooperation in establishing connectivity between India’s Guwahati and Bangladesh’s Chattogram and also from Mahendraganj of Meghalaya in India to Hili of West Bengal in India.

India urged for an early evaluation of the agreement on the use of Chattogram and Mongla seaports for the movement of goods to and from India, including the finalisation of cost-effective pricing and regulatory orders.

India also requested for transhipment arrangement in Munshiganj and Pangaon as part of the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade until the completion of the bilateral project to develop the Ashuganj container terminal.

Bangladesh informed India about the infrastructural limitations in this regard and that the works for upgrading the facilities are being planned.

Both the countries agreed on allowing using additional land ports to help reduce the distance and cost of transportation of goods through rail connectivity from Bangladesh to Nepal and Bhutan.

They also agreed for an expeditious signing of a memorandum of understanding to simplify the movement of passengers and goods for implementing motor vehicles agreements involving Bangladesh, India and Nepal with the provision for Bhutan to join at a later date.

Both the sides agreed to develop trade and travel infrastructure to facilitate the optimal usage of this newly constructed bridge over the River Feni by India to support initiatives to strengthen connectivity and economic integration in the region, particularly for the North-East of India.

Bangladesh offered the use of Chattogram, Sylhet and Saidpur airports by the people of North East India, especially of Tripura.

Both sides agreed to explore regular air travel by lifting restrictions on movement through land ports at the earliest as well as to evaluate the existing train and bus services between the two countries at the earliest depending on the COVID-19 situation.

On bilateral trade, India once again requested for the use of at least one major land port, starting with Agartala-Akhaura land port, without port restrictions or with a negative list of restrictions, on the border with the North Eastern Region of India for easier market access.

India urged Bangladesh to remove the existing practices against the Indian companies from participating in tenders floated by various ministries and agencies in Bangladesh. Bangladesh informed that there is no country-specific restriction in the process.

Bangladesh urged India to withdraw the duties imposed on the export of jute products from Bangladesh in 2017. India agreed to look into the matter.

The two PMs directed their concerned authorities for the early conclusion of an MoU on mutual recognition of academic qualifications.

Both sides expected an expeditious conclusion of the ongoing joint study on the prospects of entering into a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

They iterated the importance of the removal of non-tariff barriers, harmonisation of standards, mutual recognition of agreements and certificates as well as ensuring predictability of trade policies, regulations and procedures for bilateral trade to flourish.

They expressed the urgent need for upgrading the infrastructure and facilities of the land ports to facilitate trade between the two countries.

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