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India, Bangla look to doubling bilateral trade

By The Assam Tribune

AGARTALA, Nov 11 (IANS) - Leading industry chambers of India and Bangladesh have formed a task force to increase the trade between the two neighbours, officials said here Thursday.

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) have recently constituted the 10-member task force, which would also study investment prospects in the two countries.

�The task force would submit its report, along with proposals, to the Prime Ministers of the two countries within the next six months,� CII principal adviser Sushanta Sen told reporters.

"The current value of Indo-Bangladesh trade is $3 billion. The scope of growth is much higher," Indian high commissioner to Bangladesh Rajeet Mitter said.

IBCCI expects that the figure can be doubled by next year if emphasis is given on improving infrastructure and easing regulatory hurdles.

�The Bangladesh government is seriously considering lifting the restrictions imposed on its companies to invest in northeast India. India has already lifted similar restrictions," IBCCI's President Abdul Matlub Ahmad said, adding that there was a "mental block" among legislators in Bangladesh about Indian investments.

"Bangladeshi industrialists are keen to set up steel, plastic, garments and food processing industries in Northeast India," Ahmad said.

Senior officials of Indian public sector firms were excited about the opportunities.

"Within the next one and half years, both the ONGC and NTPC power projects would start generating electricity," senior officer of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Sudhindra Dube said.

Bangladesh Wednesday announced that it will allow South Asian nations, including India, to access its Chittagong and Mongla ports and is keen to revive connectivity in the region.

Earlier, access to these ports was denied to India and a few other countries due to security concerns raised by some Opposition parties in Bangladesh.

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