- Recently, the first-ever container cargo from Kolkata via Bangladesh’s Chattogram port has reached Agartala which has proved to be a “historic milestone” in the Indo-Bangladesh connectivity and economic partnership.
- India and Bangladesh have enhanced cooperation in shipping and inland water trade in the recent years.
- Under the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade, in addition to the six existing Ports of Call, five more in each country have also been added.
A Glance at developments in Indo-Bangladesh relationship :
- In the last 6-7 years, the Indo-Bangladesh relationship has been dynamic as well as active cooperation is seen in resolving the various irritants which were hindering points for both the countries relations.
- Eg: Land-boundary agreement, maritime boundary issue etc.
- The recent transit and trade protocol is the milestone for further strengthening the relations especially in terms of improving the connectivity between India’s North-eastern states and Bangladesh via ports which in turn will result in reducing the logistic cost.
- Eg: Chittagong port, Mongla port etc.
- In 2019, various projects were implemented in Bangladesh like Dhaka-Agartala-Kolkata bus service, PAR project by Reliance, transfer of electricity to Dhaka via N-E grid etc.
- Thus, the relationship has enormously improved in the corporate sector, trade and in terms people to people contact.
How might this protocol be beneficial for both the countries ?
- In terms of connectivity, India has been vulnerable as seen from various recent issues and at this point, such a move might help to generate confidence in other countries towards India.
- India’s North-eastern part and Bangladesh has geographic connectivity which inturn will help to achieve regional growth as well as economic growth.
- The bureaucratic and leadership arrangements in both the countries have positive co-ordination which may help to envision the future for Indo-Bangladesh relations.
How Indo-Bangladesh relations might have impetus for sub-regional cooperation ?
- It will provide a great boost to the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) initiative as well as for the BIMSTEC.
- It may also directly benefit Nepal and Bhutan because there is a possibility that Motor Vehicle agreement may come into force from which Bhutan has withdrawn and both the countries may develop its relations in various other sectors other than power sector.
- The environmental as well as regional impact will be tremendous as the trade will take place via river route and there will be access to new markets.
- Thus, relations can be made strong and sustainable by taking it to regional level because Bangladesh imports power from Nepal and Bhutan via India.
- Further, if Myanmar comes into picture then it may bring a phenomenal change in the economy because there will be an opportunity to access South-East Asia.
- Hence, it may become more stable when the benefits are reaching to the consumer or people of the countries.
- The political irritants should be kept on minor-footnote and both the nations should focus on the developmental aspirations to reach higher economies of scale.
- The strategic engagement should be kept at foresight.
- Both the countries should expedite on ongoing projects.
- Promote Bangladesh for Indian Tourists.
- The relations between both the countries are overall at a positive note and are improving day-by-day by underscoring the differences and going for further engagement which shows the way towards global economic prosperity.