Hasan Mahmud with Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

Guwahati: Bangladesh is focusing on strengthening connectivity with India, especially Assam, through all modes in order to boost trade between the two nations, the neighbouring country’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud said on Thursday.

Addressing an Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) event here, he also deliberated on the similarities of food, attire, culture and language between Assam and Bangladesh.

“Bangladesh is focused on improving people-to-people contact and strengthening connectivity to improve trade and business through waterways, railways and airways,” he said.

Chittagong Port has a long historical association with Assam and the region since the British colonial period, Mahmud said.

“The century-old seaport has been redeveloped to handle cargo ships with deeper depths,” he said at an Indian Chambers of Commerce (ICC) event here.

He said the Chittagong Port is nearer to Guwahati compared to Haldia Port of West Bengal and using the former will reduce transportation costs.

“People of Bangladesh and Assam live on the banks of the same river. It is Brahmaputra in Assam and Jamuna in Bangladesh,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Assam Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary talked about various trade activities that took place prior to independence through present-day Bangladesh.

“The Barak river used to carry vessels from Chittagong and other ports of the then East Bengal to this region. With the formulation of the Act East Policy of Government of India, the disrupted traditional trade routes are gradually being restored and reconnected through the Chittagong and Mongla Ports,” he added.

Patowary requested the Bangladeshi government to offer necessary support and cooperation to increase the trade volume from Assam.

“Bangladesh can take the opportunities of potential sectors of Assam like ethanol, methanol, plastic and hydrocarbon to improve trade and business,” he added.

During the event, an India-Bangladesh trade portal was launched to facilitate the business fraternity of both countries.

The portal has a database of exporters and importers of both Northeast India and Bangladesh and will enable B2B collaborations between buyers and sellers of both countries, allowing business dealings and negotiations between the two sides.

Mahmud later met Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and discussed various issues related to trade and commerce.

“Happy to meet a Bangladeshi delegation comprising Hon I&B Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud, Hon MPs Shaimum Sarwar Kamal & Ms Momtaz Begom, I&B Secy Md Mokbul Hossain, Dy High Commissioner to India Md Nural Islam & Assistant High Commissioner to India Dr Shah Mohammad Tanvir Monsur.

“Assam & Bangladesh share cultural & historical ties, which need to be deepened further through trade & commerce. Chittagong port in Bangladesh holds the key to improving waterways connectivity in NE. We’re thankful to Bangladeshi Govt for cooperation in this regard,” Sarma said in a series of tweets.

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