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'Connectivity offers game-changing opportunity for India, Bangladesh'

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(Eds: Updating with quotes)

New Delhi, Jun 20 (PTI) Connectivity offers a "game-changing" opportunity for India and Bangladesh and bilateral ties can act as a catalyst for strengthening regional and sub-regional cooperation, the Bangladeshi envoy here said today.

Speaking at a seminar here, Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem Ali said the two countries were working to restore road, rail, and coastal shipping links that had existed in the pre-Partition period.

"At the same time, new land ports and better infrastructure are built to facilitate greater trade. Bangladesh-India bilateral ties can also act as a catalyst for strengthening regional and sub-regional cooperation and integration," he said.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi are deeply committed to promoting the bilateral relations for the betterment of the people of the two countries, Ali said at the seminar titled 'Bangladesh's Graduation from LDC: New Frontiers and Horizons for India Bangladesh Economic Engagement'.

The seminar was organised by the Bangladesh High Commission in collaboration with the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), to celebrate the eligibility of Bangladesh for graduation from LDC (least developed country) status.

On March 15, the United Nations Committee for Development Policy (CDP) announced that Bangladesh had met the graduation criteria for the first time.

In view of Bangladesh's economic achievement, the Bangladeshi envoy said there was enormous scope to combine the two countries' synergies particularly in the areas of connectivity, trade and commerce and energy.

This would be of mutual benefit for India and Bangladesh and for the region, he said.

"Connectivity offers a game-changing opportunity for India and Bangladesh which would bring about unprecedented benefit for us as well as for the region," Ali said.

Noting that Bangladesh figures prominently in Prime Minister Modi's 'Act East' policy, he said both countries were working on strengthening sub-regional cooperation within Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Northeast India under the BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) initiative as well as strengthening inter-regional cooperation with Southeast Asian countries under the aegis of BIMSTEC and ASEAN.

The Motor Vehicle Agreement could start operation soon as the three countries -- Bangladesh, India and Nepal -- have ratified the pact, while Bhutan would join later, the envoy said.

"All these connectivity projects will facilitate the exploration of more opportunities through trade and investment," he said.

Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Principal Coordinator (SDG Affairs), Prime Minister's Office, Bangladesh, said there were several opportunities for collaboration between Bangladesh and India and they need to now look at diversifying collaboration.

Ram Upendra Das, Head and Professor, Centre for Regional Trade, Department of Commerce, India's Ministry of Commerce and Industry, also said at the seminar that exports of Bangladesh to India have a greater potential but export diversification was the need of the hour.

He also stressed on economic integration in South Asia and said creating prosperity through peace and peace through prosperity simultaneously is needed, Das said.

Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, Chairman of Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation, Bangladesh, flagged the issue of Rohingya refugees, saying, "We have about 10 lakh Rohingyas in Bangladesh. Our poverty eradication was going fast but we had to take care of these people...we must all come together to resolve this issue as soon as possible."

Hailing Bangladesh's eligibility for graduation from LDC status, the country's envoy here said it was a great opportunity for Bangladesh as its "biggest neighbour and trusted friend" India was fast emerging as a global power.

The eligibility of a country for graduation from LDC is measured by the UN on the attainment of threshold value of three criteria -- Gross National Income (GNI), Human Asset Index (HAI) and Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI).

A country can pass the test by achieving the threshold target for at least two of these three criteria. Bangladesh has achieved all three targets convincingly, Ali said.

Bangladesh, however, will have to maintain the thresholds for at least two indices till the country's final graduation from the LDC category in 2024, the envoy said.

The Bangladeshi envoy also called for greater economic integration and lauded the growing trade and commerce between India and Bangladesh.

The balance of trade, however, is still largely in India's favour, he noted.

To increase investment from India, the envoy suggested setting up of a series of "buy-back" projects on the lines that exist between US-Canada and US-Mexico.

Recently, under the third Line of Credit, the Indian government has given USD 4.5 billion to Bangladesh, he noted.

Describing the energy sector as "the hallmark" of the two countries' engagements, Ali said, "In addition to these various bilateral initiatives, we need to hasten the sub-regional cooperation on energy sector."

"A trilateral investment of 1,125 MW hydro-power project in Bhutan, by Bangladesh, India and Bhutan is also under discussion. I think, we need to further strengthen our existing sub-regional and regional platform like BBIN, SAARC, BIMSTEC etc," the envoy said.

"India could also play a very big role in furthering our economic prospects and together we would build cherished 'Shonar Bangla'," Ali said. PTI ASK ZMN

ZMN

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by BW staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.


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