India – Bangladesh: Enhancing connectivity and economic cooperation

First ever container cargo from Kolkata via Chattogram port reaches Agartala/ Image source: MEA India

There’s so much common between India and Bangladesh – Shared borders, Cultures, Languages among a few others. India’s links with Bangladesh are multidimensional, economic, cultural, and social. In the last decade, both the countries have been able to consolidate their relations and have established a comprehensive framework that bridges equally, the interests of both countries. In fact, India stands as one of the first countries to have identified the potential of its neighbour and to have established diplomatic relations with the country immediately after its independence in 1971. Trade relationships between both the countries have been honed by regular visits to the country by Prime Minister Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Prime Minister H.E. Sheikh Hasina, high-level talks and exchanges. Allies between the countries stand elevated further as a result of new developments that aim at strengthening maritime allies between the neighbours.

A new chapter in maritime relations

With Bangladesh being the largest trading partner in South Asia and a largest development partner for India, a lot of deals and agreements have been signed between the two countries. This includes a Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) signed in 2011 to synergize the efforts of both Border Guarding Forces for more effective control over cross border illegal activities and crimes as well as for the maintenance of peace and tranquillity along the India-Bangladesh border. Bilateral joint river commission, duty concessions and subsidies for trade, decreased transactions that account for tariff are some of the significant agreements that are reflective of the allies between the countries. Focusing on growth and support to Bangladesh has always been an important part of India’s “Neighbour Policy”, and the countries part in BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for multi-sectoral technical and economic cooperation) and Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) contributes immensely to strengthen the allies between the neighbours. India and Bangladesh both stand on the same page when it comes to issues of international importance. Both the neighbours have been supportive and appreciative of the decisions taken by each other, like mentioned in a tweet by Minister of State, Ministry of External Affairs, V. Muraleedharan.

Recently, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement regarding the first, container cargo from Kolkata via Chattogram Port in Bangladesh reached Tripura’s capital Agartala.  The MEA spokesperson Mr Anurag Srivastava said, “With this, the distance and time taken in the transportation of goods for India particularly the north-eastern states will get reduced”. He added that the logistical sector will get a big boost and, “will enhance business services and revenue generation in Bangladesh”.

At a media briefing, Srivastava also said this development is in line with the vision that the two countries have towards further strengthening bilateral connectivity and a mutually beneficial partnership aimed at benefiting people on both the sides. The movement of the container cargo happened after the agreement on the use of Chattogram and Mongola Ports for the movement of India’s transit cargo through Bangladesh. Besides, he also appreciated Bangladesh for its stand on Jammu and Kashmir. “As regards to Jammu and Kashmir, we appreciate their (Bangladesh’s) consistent stand that J&K and all developments in J&K are matters internal to India. This is a stand that they have always taken,” he said. This development comes after a rare conversation between Dhaka and Islamabad. All these developments are approving of the strengthening ties between the two countries that can further be sharpened with continued diplomatic efforts.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Shanmugapriya Balasubramanian

Shanmugapriya Balasubramanian is a Former Journalism Intern at The Kootneeti's Asia Desk

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