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Bangla seeks trade links with NE

By Kalyan Barooah

NEW DELHI, Oct 24 � As part of the move to intensify trade relations between the North Eastern States and Bangladesh, Commerce Minister of the country, Muhammad Faruk Khan has proposed a meeting with Industries Ministers of the region in January-February, next year.

With an eye on the bustling markets of the eight North Eastern States, Bangladesh has sought duty-free access to Indian markets, pointing out that fate of the region and Bangladesh are intertwined.

Talking to a group of newsmen before his departure to Dhaka, the visiting Commerce Minister said he met Union Minister for North Eastern Region (DoNER) and Mines, Bijoy Krishna Handique and held a detail discussion about trade possibilities.

The Minister said he has called for a conference with the Industries Ministers of the North Eastern Region during the opening of border haats in January-February, to further strengthen trade ties. Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma is also likely to be present at the inauguration of the haats.

Khan said the opening of border haats would help increase local trade and reduce smuggling across the border areas. He said more such haats would be opened in the border areas depending on the success of the two haats in Meghalaya.

Indian Government has allocated $ 125 million for the development work of seven integrated check posts and eight land ports. Khan said the initiative would further help expand trade between the two countries.

Meanwhile, riding on the wings of improved ties, the Bangladesh side that also included business delegation did some hard bargaining seeking further trade concessions and dilution of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).

The Minister also made passing reference to the changed security scenario between the two countries. Bangladesh had facilitated the flushing out of holed up insurgent leaders of several militant outfits including ULFA, NDFB and UNLF, among others, in the recent months.

The High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Tariq Karim said that Bangladesh with a growth rate of six per cent can latch on India to increase its growth rate, while landlocked North-east with a growth rate of four per cent or less can latch on to Bangladesh to grow.

�The North Eastern States can grow if they latch on to us,� Karim said.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Minister expressed his happiness over the $ 1 billion credit line provided by Delhi to Dhaka, which he would be utilised for the infrastructure development including rails and roads. He said movements of goods would be easier and prices would come down for the benefit of the people.

�We held fruitful discussions and we have achieved our objective from the visit. I will be very happy to see that all the decisions taken are being implemented. It might take some time and we have to wait until that. People want end results,� he added.

The Commerce Minister further said that he had invited Anand Sharma to visit Bangladesh in December.

India has promised to export 1.1 million bales of cotton to Bangladesh in the coming year. The Minister described the move as a �good step�. Dhaka imports one thirds of cotton from India to meet its domestic needs.

The Commerce Minister said that India has positively responded to Bangladesh�s demand to exclude 61 items from the negative list of 480 items. He said of the 61 items, 47 were garment related.

He said the huge trade gap between the two countries would be narrowed if India imported more products from Bangladesh and Dhaka could send more duty free items to India.

Khan said that he had raised the issue of export of jute bags from Dhaka during his talks with Anand Sharma and was assured that the matter would be resolved soon.

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Bangla seeks trade links with NE

NEW DELHI, Oct 24 � As part of the move to intensify trade relations between the North Eastern States and Bangladesh, Commerce Minister of the country, Muhammad Faruk Khan has proposed a meeting with Industries Ministers of the region in January-February, next year.

With an eye on the bustling markets of the eight North Eastern States, Bangladesh has sought duty-free access to Indian markets, pointing out that fate of the region and Bangladesh are intertwined.

Talking to a group of newsmen before his departure to Dhaka, the visiting Commerce Minister said he met Union Minister for North Eastern Region (DoNER) and Mines, Bijoy Krishna Handique and held a detail discussion about trade possibilities.

The Minister said he has called for a conference with the Industries Ministers of the North Eastern Region during the opening of border haats in January-February, to further strengthen trade ties. Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma is also likely to be present at the inauguration of the haats.

Khan said the opening of border haats would help increase local trade and reduce smuggling across the border areas. He said more such haats would be opened in the border areas depending on the success of the two haats in Meghalaya.

Indian Government has allocated $ 125 million for the development work of seven integrated check posts and eight land ports. Khan said the initiative would further help expand trade between the two countries.

Meanwhile, riding on the wings of improved ties, the Bangladesh side that also included business delegation did some hard bargaining seeking further trade concessions and dilution of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).

The Minister also made passing reference to the changed security scenario between the two countries. Bangladesh had facilitated the flushing out of holed up insurgent leaders of several militant outfits including ULFA, NDFB and UNLF, among others, in the recent months.

The High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Tariq Karim said that Bangladesh with a growth rate of six per cent can latch on India to increase its growth rate, while landlocked North-east with a growth rate of four per cent or less can latch on to Bangladesh to grow.

�The North Eastern States can grow if they latch on to us,� Karim said.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Minister expressed his happiness over the $ 1 billion credit line provided by Delhi to Dhaka, which he would be utilised for the infrastructure development including rails and roads. He said movements of goods would be easier and prices would come down for the benefit of the people.

�We held fruitful discussions and we have achieved our objective from the visit. I will be very happy to see that all the decisions taken are being implemented. It might take some time and we have to wait until that. People want end results,� he added.

The Commerce Minister further said that he had invited Anand Sharma to visit Bangladesh in December.

India has promised to export 1.1 million bales of cotton to Bangladesh in the coming year. The Minister described the move as a �good step�. Dhaka imports one thirds of cotton from India to meet its domestic needs.

The Commerce Minister said that India has positively responded to Bangladesh�s demand to exclude 61 items from the negative list of 480 items. He said of the 61 items, 47 were garment related.

He said the huge trade gap between the two countries would be narrowed if India imported more products from Bangladesh and Dhaka could send more duty free items to India.

Khan said that he had raised the issue of export of jute bags from Dhaka during his talks with Anand Sharma and was assured that the matter would be resolved soon.