PM-Hasina meet: Tripura & NE trade barriers to get priority, high hopes on early solution   
Indo-Bangladesh border

Agartala: Prime Minister Narendra Modi shall take up a range of issues pertaining to cross-border trade between India and Bangladesh through the North Eastern region, especially Tripura, during his meeting with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina next week.

The Bangladesh PM will be on a four-day visit to India starting September 5, Special Secretary of Industries and Commerce department Abhisek Chandra said.

“Several trade infrastructures are on an unprecedented halt owing to either objection from the Bangladesh side or their reluctance for resumption. Two operational border haats (border trade marts) that were shut due to the Covid-19 pandemic could not be reopened. We have requested the Bangladesh government for their kind attention on the issue and allow for exchange of goods and services through the trade points. We did not receive any approval from their side so far,” Chandra said.

Similarly, infrastructure development at the Muhurighat Integrated Check Post under Belonia sub-division of South Tripura district has also been suspended owing to objections flagged by the Bangladesh authorities. The Maitri setu was inaugurated but the connecting roads need to be revamped on the Bangladesh side to facilitate trade.

“Through the office of the Chief Secretary, all these issues have been compiled and sent to the Prime Minister’s Office. The PM shall raise the issues before the Bangladesh Prime Minister for speedy resolution,” said Chandra.

According to the official, the Tripura government identified a total of 26 products that could have changed the state’s economic scenario if allowed to be traded directly with Bangladesh. However, only 16 products have been permitted for trade so far even as others await clearance from Bangladesh.

“For instance, Bangladesh charges 80 percent excise duty on tea and that’s how it goes out of the race in Bangladesh’s domestic market. Rubber, which is one of the key industrial crops of the state, is also not allowed for trade directly through Tripura. So, these issues need thorough discussion and I hope the Prime Minister will take up the matter with the Bangladesh PM at the meeting scheduled on September 6,” said Chandra.

A statement issued by the Industries department, however, said that the total trade with Bangladesh over the years has increased by 158 per cent and 70 per cent of it is in the form of imports. In comparison, India is exporting 30 per cent of the total. In the fiscal year 2021-22, the total trade stood at Rs 1008.40 crore.

The statement also added that foundation for the Kamalpur-Kumarghat border haat has been laid and trial run of goods through Chittagong and Mongla port has also been successfully completed. 

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