Indian representatives along with their counterparts from Bangladesh at the India-Bangladesh Stakeholders’ Meet in Guwahati on Tuesday Credit: EastMojo image

Guwahati: The two-day-long India-Bangladesh Stakeholders’ Meet kicked off in Guwahati on Tuesday with a total of 70 member delegations from both the nations taking part in the discussions to develop trade and commerce relations between both the neighbouring countries.

Assam chief minster Sarbananda Sonowal, Tripura CM Biplab Kumar Deb along with some of the Union ministers from India and its neighbouring nation are also taking part in the meet to boost the trade and commerce.

The idea behind the bilateral stakeholders’ meet is to put Assam and Northeast region of India at the focus point of the country’s trade expansion with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as well as Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

The first-of-its-kind bilateral meet will also focus on improving connectivity of Northeast region with its neighbouring countries to get the best of the Union government’s dynamic Act East Policy initiative, especially for the host state of Assam.

On the inaugural day of the bilateral meet on Tuesday, the day started with a technical session that witnessed discussions on connectivity aspect as the broad theme, with several other sessions lined up aiming to focus on the road agreements, cross border surface route trade and port use agreements between India and Bangladesh. A business meet including discussions on agriculture, mines and minerals, tea and infrastructure will also be held in the course of the two-day bilateral meet.

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Addressing the house with his inaugural speech, Assam commerce and industry minister Chandra Mohan Patowary expressed that this bilateral meet is vital for the economic growth of both the neighbouring countries including Northeastern states of India.

“With the boost in trade and commerce between India and Bangladesh, Northeast India would not remain a periphery but will turn into a centre of South East Asian countries,” Patowary added.

Meanwhile addressing the house in the morning session of the two-day-long bilateral meet, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das informed that India accords top priority in bilateral relations with Bangladesh and the trade and commerce between the two countries has improved gradually over the years.

“Both the countries had shared a common history in the past also language and culture to some extent, so the recent development in terms of connectivity and trade and commerce can help in revive and explore resources on both ends, hence triggering an economic boost for both the nations,” Das expressed.

On the other hand, highlighting some of the areas of engagement that both the countries are working upon currently, deputy high commissioner of Bangladesh to India Rokebul Haque stated Bangladesh is importing assets like fuel from Numaligarh Refinery Limited in Assam and electricity from Tripura at the moment. He further highlighted that in order to reduce the high cost spent on transportation, Bangladesh has recently started supplying LPG to bordering Tripura.

Apart from the top ministers of state and the Centre, the two-day bilateral meet also witnessed participation of members from Indian Chamber of Commerce, Asian Development Bank, Freight Forwarding Associations, Motor Transport Associations, Inland Water Transport Authority, representatives from Chittagong Port Authority, representatives from Mongla Port Authority and custom officials, among others.

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