Bangladesh's apparel, ICT, medicines and some other products have enormous prospects in the Indian market if regional connectivity problems coupled with non-tariff trade barriers can be solved, said businesspeople on Thursday.
Similarly, many Indian products have opportunities in Bangladesh, too, they said at a webinar titled "Growth, prosperity and connectivity for development" organised by the India-Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI).
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi attended the discussion as the chief guest and Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das as the special guest; IBCCI President Abdul Matlub Ahmed moderated the discussion.
BIWTA member (finance) Nurul Alam, President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Sheikh Fazle Fahim, President of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mahbubul Alam and President of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka Nihad Kabir also spoke on the occasion.
The speakers said there has been much progress in regional communication between India and Bangladesh. Digital connectivity is also increasing. However, there are still many non-tariff barriers to the entry of Bangladeshi goods into India.
The two countries must come forward to overcome these obstacles, they said.
They said if there was connectivity, trades would get dynamism.
They suggested forming a task force to facilitate the movement of products on an emergency basis if necessary.
Mentioning that Bangladesh's readymade garments have potential for greater access to the Indian market, FBCCI President Sheikh Fazle Fahim said 80 percent of the country's current transactions are made through the port of Benapole. The products cannot go to India smoothly due to high costs on the roadway. If communication is done by railway and waterway, goods can be shipped at low costs.
He thinks that there is a huge export potential for Bangladesh's SME and RMG products in India.
Nihad Kabir said, "Our problem in businesses with India is communication. Entrepreneurs will be able to easily import raw materials if the land ports of the two countries can be utilised."
Riva Ganguly, India's ambassador to Bangladesh, said the Indian foreign secretary has recently visited Bangladesh. He had essential discussions with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. There were also fruitful discussions on fortifying special trade and economic relations, the post-coronavirus economic recovery and Covid-19 vaccines.
She said there is no problem in transporting goods through land ports and Bangladeshi products can enter the Indian market easily. As a result of Covid-19, the whole world became more stagnant than ever before. The two countries are now working together on solving this problem even with many obstacles.
Riva Ganguly said 325 trains arrived in Bangladesh in mid-August with daily necessities. The rail service is on. Four consignments have arrived in Bangladesh in the garment sector through railways.
Besides, work is going on four railway links. They are trying to launch two of them – Chilahati-Haldibari and Shahbazpur-Mahisasan routes. Moreover, work is underway on Agartala and Akhaura lines.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said India is a tried and tested friend of Bangladesh. The country's assistance even at this time of the pandemic is very commendable.
Both countries are working together for regional communication and development.
"The title of today's seminar says we need connectivity for growth, prosperity and development. No development is possible in the present world without communication. So, we need to continue more discussions on how to develop connectivity," the minister added.
The commerce minister said, "The two countries have come a long way in regional connectivity. Our train will now go to Nepal via India. India is our biggest neighbour."
They are working with India on everything in regional communication, he added.