Bangladesh and the North-East are key areas for the successful implementation of India’s ‘Act East’ policy and other plans to integrate with the markets in Southeast Asia
By Sai Nikesh D
Tripura, which is located in an advantageous position in respect of strategic, diplomatic and economic relations with Bangladesh, is likely to become the gateway for the development of Bangladesh and for the implementation of the ‘Act East’ policy adopted by the Government of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Commerce, said yesterday.
Speaking at the inauguration of the first “Border Haat” along the Indo-Bangladesh international border at Srinagar, a bordering village in South Tripura, Sitharaman said that the Indian government intended to move for development of Bangladesh through Tripura. Sitharaman added that the government is looking forward to the North-East as the threshold to reach the South-East Asian countries.
Manik Sarkar, Chief Minister, Tripura, inaugurated the “Border Haat” in presence of Tofail Ahmed, Commerce Minister, Bangladesh, Jitendra Choudhury, MP, India, Shirin Akhtar, MP, Bangladesh, and Pankaj Shran, High Commissioner of India in Dhaka. Sarkar made a plea to the governments of both countries to provide transit facility using Ashuganj and Chittagong sea ports in Bangladesh. He said that at least a trans-shipment facility will help the region grow.
Under the “Look East” policy, which has now become “Act East”, the Indian government plans to open India’s eastern borders to larger markets in Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar.
The recently signed $1.1 billion agreement between India and the World Bank towards the second loan for the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) is expected to boost India’s trade with Bangladesh and other countries across India’s eastern borders. The DFC will also give a boost to the trilateral highway between India, Myanmar and Thailand, and the development of the proposed Trans-Asian Railway involving infrastructure investments in India, Bangladesh, and countries further east.
The Indian government is planning to increase trade with ASEAN countries from the current levels of $80 billion to $100 billion this year. Earlier, Sitharaman had said that improved physical connectivity via the North-East is important for India to leverage the opportunities created by the India-ASEAN FTA in Services and Investment which will come into force with effect from July 1, 2015.
This article was published in The Dollar Business on January 14, 2015.