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We will increase trade with northeast India: Bangladesh minister


Akhaurah (India-Bangladesh Border) : Bangladesh has said it will increase trade and economic activities with India’s northeast region and develop infrastructure at the border.

Bangladesh Commerce Minister Colonel (retired) Faruk Khan said: “We have decided to increase trade and business with the northeastern region to reduce Bangladesh’s trade gap with India.

“I will ask Bangladesh planning commission to approve the Taka 116 crore ($16.8 million) project within a day or two to develop the road and other border infrastructure along Akhaurah land port with India’s Tripura state,” Khan told newspersons here Thursday after flagging off the first consignment of bricks from Bangladesh to northeastern India.

Bangladesh roads and highway department had submitted the proposal to the planning commission a few months back.

The Akhaurah land port, 150 km east of Dhaka and just 5 km west of Tripura capital Agartala, is one of Bangladesh’s biggest trading routes with northeast India.

Khan said the Bangladesh government would take urgent steps to develop the other land ports with northeast India within six months.

Four northeastern states — Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram — share a 1,879 km border with Bangladesh.

“To increase the trade and business between Bangladesh and northeast India, my government sincerely wants rail, road, waterways and telecommunication links between the two sides,” said the minister.

Bangladesh’s Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) vice-chairman Mohammad Shahab Ullah said: “Bangladesh’s trade gap with India has increased to $2,566.42 million in 2008-09.”

India has been issuing a large number of visas to Bangladeshi businessmen.

“India issues half-a-million visas annually to Bangladeshis and this is the highest number of visas given to Bangladeshis by any country and we are also issuing multiple visas to traders and businessmen of that country,” said Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, who was also present at the function.

In 2006, 2007 and 2008, the total number of visas issued by India to Bangladeshis was respectively 472,644, 481,064 and 523,322.