Agartala: Despite strong relations between India and Bangladesh and Tripura being one of the strategic points for trans-border trade, the state is yet to convince Bangladesh to lift barriers imposed on crucial homegrown export-worthy products.

Although over the years barriers have been relaxed and new items have been introduced, two of Tripura’s crucial cash crops: tea and rubber remain excluded from the export list.

“The proposals are still lying with the Bangladesh authorities. Once we get a green signal, we are ready to start exporting within a short period. But, it seems not to be happening soon as Bangladesh is now growing rubber domestically on a commercial scale. Although Bangladesh is among the top ten tea-producing countries, its annual production is still in deficit, and thus, we still have a thin layer of hope,” said an official.

The official also informed EastMojo that since 2019, Bangladesh has also imposed restrictions on pineapple export. Pineapple is one of the premier export quality crops of the state.

Apart from that, he said, products like incense sticks, brooms etc. are being exported through the Srimanatapur integrated check-post in the Sepahijala district.

According to official data, exports through Akhaura integrated check-post grew substantially in the last financial year after India sent a couple of rice and wheat shipments using the land port. But wheat export has been banned, so exports this financial year may not reach those heights again.

“The total trade done through Akhaura integrated check post in the last financial year stands at Rs 650 crore, of which exports account for only Rs 172 crore. Since Tripura is now connected via broad-gauges, Dhaka finds it easier to import essentials through this route. From Akhaura, Dhaka is only 130 km by road. Other city towns like Comilla and Brahmanbaria are also close to Tripura, which gives us a strategic advantage. But, now, with restrictions, we don’t know how much we can do this year,” the official said.

Traditionally, Bangladesh dominated the international trade through Tripura, and India imported more than it exported via this route. In 2006-07, Tripura imported goods worth Rs 48.69 crore while exports stood at 0.87 crore. In the last financial year, Bangladesh exported goods worth Rs 644.78 crore while Tripura could barely crossed the Rs 30-crore mark.

When asked if there are any special plans to boost the trade, the official said, “A new master plan has been approved for the Akhaura integrated check-post. Plans are afoot to transform the present roadway connection between Akhaura and Ashuganj port in Bangladesh into a four-lane road.”

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