Published in Dhaka Tribune on Monday, 28 March 2016
Seminar: Infrastructure development a must for boosting trade with India
Improvement in infrastructure in the bordering areas is crucial for further boosting trade with India, opined trade analysts.
Speaking at a seminar, they also underscored the need for resuming historical connectivity between Bangladesh and India to bring dynamism in trade and commerce between Bangladesh and India.
They were addressing a seminar on Bangladesh India Cooperation organised jointly by Bangladesh Itihas Sammilani and Center for East and North East Regional Studies in the city yesterday.
The aim of the seminar is to share and discuss the ways and means of jointly establishing the safe and security to accelerate mutual development and prosperity to attain peace and stability in the region.
“Bangladesh-India economic relationship should be seen as a key strategic driver of the country’s development. Indeed, in terms of trade volume, this is the most significant bilateral relationship in the South Asian region,” said Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
In this backdrop, it is reckoned that the two countries will be required to strengthen and deepen connectivity in five concrete areas-trade, transport, investment, energy and people to people connectivity, said Rahman.
He said: “Improvement of trade-related infrastructure at boarder and customs points are critical not only for increasing Bangladesh’s export opportunities but also for bringing down the cost of import from India and the region.”
He said a deeper cooperation with India, a rising power in the twenty-first century, through the closer cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, connectivity and infrastructure, would contribute significantly to service and serve Bangladesh’s development ambitions and aspirations.
Speaking as chief gust, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said: “Indian government should show liberal attitude towards Bangladesh on trade related issues.”
“In 23 categories, India has allowed duty free access of 190 Bangladeshi products but the question comes about the capacity. On the other hand, the Indian government has given duty-free market access but impose 12% counter-veiling duty,” he said.
“It is natural that two neighboring countries will have some problems. But the scope of resolving these problems by cooperation is much greater than the usual trend of mutual criticism and misunderstanding,” said Jayanta Kumar Roy, national research professor of India.
Former Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pinak Ranjan Chakravaty said, “We have destroyed historical connectivity which should be reconnected.”
Talking on the regional trade, Pinak said: “It is very unfortunate that our regional trade is less than 5%, while EU regional trade is 67%, ASEAN 26%, Latin America’s regional trade is about 22%.”
Published in The Financial Express on Sunday, 27 March 2016
Be realistic about trade with India: Tofail
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said he wondered why the people were so concerned about the trade gap between Bangladesh and India. “How do we lose (by importing)?” he asked, while speaking at a session on trade and connectivity at Bangladesh-India cooperation conference on Sunday, reports bdnews24.com. Bangladesh Itihas Sammilani organised the conference in Dhaka with the Kolkata-based Center for East and Northeast Regional Studies at Bangla Academy. Tofail said nobody discusses the trade gap with China. “Everyone talks about India”. He said that Bangladesh imports cotton and fabrics from India and uses it for our export-oriented apparel industry. “From where can we import, if it’s not India? Uzbekistan is an option, but it is too far. That would increase the price”. “We don’t have the capacity to export, despite India’s duty-free access to Bangladesh,” he said, asking the critics to be “realistic”. Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue Prof Mustafizur Rahman also said he did not find any problem in the trade gap with India. He said Bangladesh could not take the advantage of the India’s huge $448 billion import market, despite duty-free privileges. The share of Bangladesh’s exports in the global import of India was a mere 0.1 percent in the 2014-15 fiscal, according to Rahman. “When Indian investors come to Bangladesh, the situation will change as they will be exporting from here,” he said, referring to the government’s move of two special economic zones dedicated for India. He said Bangladesh must do its best to take advantage of the emerging opportunities in the Indian market by doing proper “homework”. Former Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty who served between 1999 and 2002 in Dhaka, said India has $50 billion trade gap with China. “But we are not crying in New Delhi for this”. “India is a huge market. All countries want to do business here. Bangladesh must compete with the international market,” he said. He said as for as Bangladesh is concerned, there is no change in Indian policy when the regime changes in New Delhi. He, however, suggested reconnecting all the historic connectivity points that existed before Partition. Academics, security experts and former diplomats of both countries attended the conference.
Published in The Daily Sun on Monday, 28 March 2016
Stress on better connectivity to boost Indo-Bangla trade
Increasing the connectivity in various sectors including trade, transport, investment, energy and people to people relation between Bangladesh and India is the key to further strengthen the economic ties of the two neighboring countries, speakers at an international conference observed on Sunday.
The conference was jointly organised by Bangladesh Itihas Sammilani and Center for East and North East Regional Studies – Kolkata on “Bangladesh-India Cooperation” at Bangla Academy auditorium in the city, reports BSS.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed attended the conference as the chief guest while Professor, Economics Department of Dhaka University MM Akas, Executive Director of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Mustafizur Rahman and Former Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, among others, spoke on the occasion.
Tofail underscored the need for increasing connectivity between the two countries and called upon India to show liberal attitude to the small neighboring countries for uplifting the regional economic relation.
“The economic growth in the world depends on connectivity,” he added.
He said the proposed BCIN (Bangladesh, China, India and Nepal) will help the regional economy go forward.
Mentioning the assistance of India during the Liberation War, Tofail said India provided all sorts of supports to Bangladesh during the war and the neighbouring country gave shelter to around one crore (10 million) Bangladeshis for nine months.
He said India is historically the genuine friend of the country and the bilateral relation is strengthening day by day.
He also said Bangladesh has achieved remarkable progress in many sectors including poverty alleviation, life expectancy, education and health than its neighboring countries, including India and Pakistan under the prudent policy support and dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Mustafizur Rahman said the offer of Bangladesh to India in regards to setting up of two Special Economic Zones in Bheramara (Kushtia) and Mongla should provide incentive to potential Indian investors to set up enterprises in Bangladesh targeting the Indian and other overseas markets.
MM Akas stressed on building a good trade relation with Indian backward states to reduce the trade gap between the two countries and strengthen more the existing relation.