India-Bangladesh Stakeholders’ Meet
PRESS RELEASE - Dispur, Oct 22: Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal called for joint efforts to boost growth potential of India and Bangladesh through expeditious implementation of the agreements inked for reviving the multi-model communication network, which existed through rail, road and waterways in the past. Sonowal made this call while inaugurating the two-day India-Bangladesh Stakeholders’ Meet that began in Guwahati today.
“A climate of mutual trust and confidence; respect for each other’s sensitivities and concerns; and, peace and stability in our region are essential for us to realize the enormous potential in our relations”, Sonowal said adding that the political and business leadership of both the countries must work on common interest to achieve common goals.
The Chief Minister said that on the backdrop of signing, exchanging and adopting several bilateral agreements between the two countries, the potential for growth of trade between North Eastern States and Bangladesh has increased manifold. Stating that tea and petroleum earlier used to reach Chattogram and Kolkata ports through the Brahmaputra-Padma-Meghna riverine waterway as well as through railway lines passing through present-day Bangladesh, the Chief Minister viewed that revival of this communication network would immensely facilitate economic growth of the region.
The Chief Minister further urged the delegates to iron out all issues to finalize the Standard Operating Procedures to ensure speedy implementation of agreements to ensure access of the Chattogram and Mongla Ports of Bangladesh to the North East of India and execution of BBIN motor vehicle agreement.
The Chief Minister further said that the Act East Policy of the central government gives a renewed vigour to development in the north east turning the entire region into the centre of New India’s growth vision and implementation within a short span of time. He also lauded the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina for their efforts to forge a more meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship.
The Chief Minister also touched upon the historical relationship between the people of Assam and Bangladesh which is based on shared culture, heritage, literature and language. Sonowal further quoted lyrics of legendary singer Dr Bhupen Hazarika’s songs ‘Ganga Amar Ma, Padma Amar Ma…’ and “Joy Joy Nabajato Bangladesh” that highlighted the bondage of identity and cultural bonhomie of people across the border. He also mentioned about the names of cultural luminaries of Bangladesh like poet Kazi Nazrul Islam and singer Runa Laila, whose creations continue to reinforce the bonding between the people of both the countries.
Minister of Commerce, Government of Bangladesh Tipu Munshi while speaking on the occasion said that India is not only their closest neighbour but also a friend forever. “Both India and Bangladesh have made significant success to carry forward the relationship to newer heights in every sphere of engagement for meaningful expansion of trade & commerce and connectivity”, he added.
Appreciating Chief Minister Sonowal for the initiative to hold the Stakeholders’ Meet which he said reflected the chief minister’s keen interest in business development, the Bangladesh Commerce Minister said that India is the second largest trading partner of Bangladesh next to china. “Trade between India and Bangladesh registered growth in recent years. Over the period of last ten years, it increased from US $5 to $9 billion”.
The Bangladesh Commerce Minister also stressed on the need to resolve all non-tariff issues such as testing products quality, removal of export restriction, logistic facility etc. to promote trade between both the countries. He also said that unpredictable and non-transparent regulatory barriers are major hindrance in facilitation of improved trade & commerce and called for pragmatic steps in settling the same.
Further saying that proactive action would help in expanding the bilateral relationship, the commerce minister requested to withdraw export ban on onion which India imposed recently owing to local issues. He informed that Bangladesh has shortage of 6 lac tons of onion as 80% of its requirement comes from India.
Moreover saying that absence of seamless communication between Bangladesh and India and to other South East Asian countries is a major issue, he stressed on the need to make expeditious use of pacts like port use and BBIN Motor vehicle agreement. He further hoped that the meeting would give further impetus to India-Bangladesh relationship and trade & commerce between both the countries.
Economic Affairs Advisor to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Mashiur A.K.M. Rahman in his speech stressed on the need to focus on water management, railway and surface connectivity. He also spoke on the importance of border huts, tapping the hydro-power potential of the north east of India for the benefit of Bangladesh and India. He also underlined the importance of working together to make best use of the possibilities and potentials of the region for faster economic growth.
Chief Minister of Tripura Biplab Kumar Deb while speaking on the occasion said that Tripura shares 80% of its border areas with Bangladesh. He said that improved connectivity, trade and commerce between India and Bangladesh would immensely boost development in Tripura, He also highlighted many issues which could play an important role in facilitating trade & commerce in the region.
The Tripura Chief Minister further thanked Chief Minister of Assam for taking expeditious measures for building inter-state border roads connecting Assam with Tripura. He said that steps taken by the Assam Chief Minister have not only paved way for seamless transportation but also promoted economic development of the State. He also spoke about the popularity that Assam Chief Minister enjoys amongst the people of Tripura saying that he has to put enormous efforts to match that popularity.
While Minister of Road Transport, Industry & Commerce, Government of Assam Chandra Mohan Patowary delivered the welcome speech, the inaugural function was also addressed by Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways General VK Singh (Retd.), Industries & Commerce Minister of Mizoram Government Dr R. Lalthangliana, Secretary of Ministry of Commerce Dr. Anup Wadhwan, Secretary of Ministry of Textiles Ravi Capoor, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das, Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India A.T.M. Rockebul Haque, Country Director of Asian Development Bank Kenichi Yokoyama. The inaugural function was attended by delegates and officials from Bangladesh and India as well as industry representatives.
BG/ Oct. 22, 2019
Bus Tour to Bangladesh and Myanmar
Act East Policy Affairs Department has organized a bus tour of 15 Hon’ble Members of Assam Legislative Assembly, 13 IAS and ACS Officers and 2 other officers to Bangladesh and Myanmar w.e.f. 26th June, to 5th July, 2019. The delegation was led by the Hon’ble Minister, Act East Policy Affairs Department. The objectivesthe Bus tour “SamparkYatra” were to sensitize the decision makers of the locational advantage of these countries to the State of Assam and the larger North Eastern Region, and its potential for the economic growth of the region, and also engage in meetings with the industry fraternity and exporters of these countries. The bus tour has been able to accomplish almost all of its stated objectives. The bus tour resulted in a concrete road map for furthering relations with Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Visit of Delegation of Malaysia-India Business Council (MIBC)
An MIBC delegation along with Invest India officials visited Assam in November 2019. In this regard, the delegation had meetings with officers of the Act East Policy Affairs and Industries & Commerce Departments of the Government of Assam, besides visiting the offices of Assam Skill Development Mission and Guwahati Smart City Mission. They also signed anMoU with the Industries & Commerce Department.
Participation in 9th Bangladesh Travel & Tourism Fair 2019
Act East Policy Affairs Department participated in the 9th Bangladesh Travel & Tourism Fair 2019 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, w.e.f. 18th to 20th April 2019. The thrust was to open up the Health Care and Higher Education Sectors of Assam to the prospective patients and students respectively from Bangladesh. In the light of this, a number of private health-care institutions and private higher educational institutions attended the Fair under the aegis of the Department. The Fair comprised an Exhibition showcasing different countries and regions over a period of 3 (three) days, w.e.f. 18th to 20th April 2019, besides holding of topical seminars and B2B meetings between interested private stakeholders. As part of that Exhibition, the Act East Policy Affairs Department set up its Stall showcasing the Private Health Care Sector and Private Higher Educational Sector of Assam – with the objective of promoting medical tourism and education-based tourism in Assam. A Seminar on “Prospects of Medical Tourism in Assam” was organized in the afternoon of 19th April 2019. During the seminar, Dr.NiamurRiaz of Hayat Hospital and Dr. Subhash Khanna of Swagat Hospital gave very fine and illustrative presentations on the facilities available for Super Specialty and Multi-Specialty Treatment in Guwahati. In the backdrop of the Fair, the Indian High Commission in Dhaka arranged for 3 (three) B2B meetings for our participating Private Higher Educational Institutions. The B2B meetings with Daffodil International University and American International University on 18th April 2019, and with BRAC University on 21st April 2019, involved discussion on prospective Summer Camp, Student Exchange Program on Semester Basis, there was also talk on having academic and technical collaboration and a host of other related ways and means of cooperation.
Act East Policy Affairs Department had organized a round table conference of Hon’ble Chief Minister of Assam with Ambassadors, High Commissioners of ASEAN and BBN countries, and their representatives. The meeting was attended by 4 Ambassadors, 2 High Commissioners, 1 Deputy Chief d’ Mission, and 1 Deputy High Commissioner of 8 ASEAN countries; besides the Asst High Commissioner of Bangladesh and the Consul General of Bhutan in Guwahati. The conference discussed ways and means to develop business and cultural relations of Assam and North East India with the ASEAN and BBN countries, and actionable points were documented as a result of the discussions.
2ndMeeting of Indo-Bangladesh Joint Committee on Border Haats
The 2nd meeting of the Indo – Bangladesh Joint Committee on Border Haats was held in Sylhet (Bangladesh) on 23rd & 24th April 2019. The Department was represented in the Indian Delegation therein by one of its Deputy Secretaries. It may be noted that Border Haats are rural market places in an enclosed area on the border with a foreign country (viz. Bangladesh), with half of that area in each country, and accessible by separate entrance gates to citizens of both countries within a radial distance of 5 Kms from the Border Haat concerned. The raison d’être of the Border Haats is not only the establishment of traditional system of marketing among local people residing in remote border areas of both countries, but also promotion of people to people contact therein creating a cross-border camaraderie. Among the 6 new Border Haats whose locations were finalized in the aforementioned meeting, 2 numbers fall in the Assam stretch of the Indo-Bangladesh Border: viz. Satrasal in Dhubri District and Latu in Karimganj District.