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India keen to boost economic ties with Bangladesh: Minister

By The Assam Tribune

Srinagar (Tripura), Jan 13 (IANS): India is keen to further strengthen economic relations with Bangladesh, union Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said here on Tuesday.

"India seriously wants to further reinforce the trade, economy and people to people relations and all other mutual issues with Bangladesh," Sitharaman said after opening a "border haat" (market) here along the Bangladesh border.

She said "Prime Minister Narendra Modi already announced to convert the 'Look East Policy' to 'Act East Policy' for better relations and further all round development of the northeastern region after closely connecting the region with the Southeast Asian countries."

Sitharaman and her Bangladeshi counterpart Tofail Ahmed jointly inaugurated the "border haat" in the presence of thousands of people of both the neighbouring nations.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, state Industry and Commerce Minister Tapan Chakraborty, Lok Sabha Member Jitendra Chowdhury and senior Indian and Bangladeshi officials were among others present on the occasion.

Sitharaman said with the opening of the "border haat", the economic condition of the people living near the border in both the countries would further improve.

She asked the Tripura chief minister to expedite the setting up of other 'border haats' along the state's borders with Bangladesh.

"The central government would extend all out support to the Tripura government in setting up projects beneficial to the state and improve India-Bangladesh ties," Sitharaman added.

"Tripura is situated in a strategic location. Hence, it could be the gateway of Southeast Asian countries."

Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said an economic corridor is being established using India's northeast, Myanmar, Bangladesh and the adjoining regions.

He said "Bangladesh currently exports goods valued at Taka.30 billion per year to various countries. This could be further enhanced if India and Bangladesh come more closer in trade, economy, connectivity and other sectors."

Ahmed said "India provided all help and support to Bangladesh during the 1971 Liberation War and Bangladesh's support to India would continue and it would be further strengthened."

"The Bangladesh parliament has already ratified the India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement but the Indian parliament is yet to endorse the deal," he added.

He said Bangladesh has achieved a lot in the economic and social sectors and India helped out in this.

The 'border haat' at southern Tripura's Srinagar - about 140 km south of Tripura capital Agartala - is the state's first and the third such market along India's border with Bangladesh.

Two "border haats" were set up in 2012 on the Meghalaya-Bangladesh border - Kalaichar (India)-Baliamari (Bangladesh) and Dalora (Bangladesh)-Balat (India).

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