India and Bangladesh study possibilities of boosting cross-border trade | SupportBiz

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India and Bangladesh study possibilities of boosting cross-border trade

Senior officials from India and Bangladesh, on June 9, started a five-day joint study to examine facilities and infrastructure along the border and suggest measures to boost cross-border trade. "We will study the available facilities and infrastructure, and what more is needed to boost India-Bangladesh trade and business," Foreign Trade Director (South Asian, SAARC countries and Iran) Indira Murthy told reporters.

"Under the ASIDE (Assistance to States for Development of Export Infrastructure and Allied Activities) scheme, LCS (land customs stations) and other infrastructure can be developed to accelerate cross-border trade and business," said Murthy, who is leading the five-member Indian team.

Ten senior officials from the external affairs and commerce ministries and customs department of the two countries will, till June 13, examine infrastructure along both sides of the border before holding a meeting with Tripura officials and ministers.

Bangladesh's senior commerce ministry official B Shyam said: "Our government is keen to step up trade and business with India, especially with the north-eastern states. To support the trade and business, the Bangladesh government is ready to improve its existing infrastructure along the border with India."

The officials of India and Bangladesh would soon conduct similar studies along the international borders with Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram.

India's High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Pankaj Saran, recently made a four-day tour of Meghalaya and Tripura to study the border projects agreed between India and Bangladesh.

The Tripura government had, in 2011, sent proposals to the central government for setting up seven border haats (markets). However, New Delhi and Dhaka have approved four such border markets after mutual consultation.

The haats would be set up in Raghna and Kamalpur in northern Tripura, Kasba in western Tripura, and Srinagar in southern Tripura.

A border haat is already functioning along the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya since 2011.

"If the existing border infrastructure is upgraded, the volume of trade and business between Bangladesh and the north-eastern states of India would increase five to six times," Tripura's Commerce and Industries Minister Jitendra Chaudhury said.

"The haats will be allowed to sell local agricultural and horticultural products, spices, minor forest products (excluding timber), fresh and dry fish, dairy and poultry products, cottage industry items, wooden furniture, handloom and handicraft items," a senior Tripura government official, who did want to be named, told IANS.

He said that trading in these markets would be held once or twice a week, and a spending cap of USD50 would be imposed per head.

No local tax would be imposed on the trading, and both Indian and Bangladeshi currencies would be accepted, the official said.

"Trade between Bangladesh and Tripura alone has increased from INR4 crore in 1996 to INR258 crore in the last financial year. During the current fiscal (2011-12) up to December 2011, the trade increased to INR232 crore and is expected to cross INR300 crore by March end," he said.