Indo-Bangla Trade Fair begins: Bilateral trade emphasised

The third ‘Indo-Bangla Trade Fair-2012’ kicked off in the city Thursday aiming to boost bilateral trade between Bangladesh and India in the coming days.

“The fair will provide the participants from the two neighbouring countries with opportunities for promoting their respective products and services to the consumers and the business communities,” Finance Minister AMA Muhith said.

He was speaking as the chief guest at the inaugural ceremony of the three-day Indo-Bangla Trade Fair organised by India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) with the support of Indian High Commission at a city hotel.

Industries Minister Dilip Barua, Tripura Industry and Commerce Minister Jitendra Chaudhury, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, Asam Public Health Minister Gautam Roy, Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Pankaj Saran, Country Head of the State Bank of India Pinak Chakrabarty and Executive Director of GLOBAT Sayeed Hassan, among others, were present at the event.

“It is one and a half years ago when we said we would allow some local entrepreneurs to invest abroad on case-by-case basis,” the finance minister said adding “And certainly India would be a very good destination for this.”

He, however, did not give any clear indication when the government would allow Bangladeshi investment abroad.

“On opening offices by Bangladeshi companies in India, I will request the central bank to be generous,” Mr Muhith said emphasising better business contact with India to help grow business between the two countries.

“Bangladesh is a unique platform for any kind of investment due to high-tech atmosphere in the country’s industrial zone,” Dilip Barua said while speaking as the special guest.

He said the trade fair would be a milestone to transfer technologies and strengthen the bilateral trade relation between the two countries.

Mr Barua proposed a free-market zone with zero tariff for the SAARC member countries with the spirit of SAFTA for sustainable regional development and cooperation and the betterment of the common people.

Mr Nabam Tuki invited Bangladeshi entrepreneurs to invest in northeast India in its prospective areas including hydropower generation and tourism sectors.

“We have an estimated hydropower potential of more than 57,000 MW. The State government is looking at business investment in the generation sector through Build-Own-Operate and Transfer (BOOT) basis,” he said.

“A closer economic integration and physical connectivity with Bangladesh would reduce not only economic isolation of the region but also the isolation of the northeast from the mainland India,” Mr Tuki added.

IBCCI president Abdul Matlub Ahmad said the trade and investment opportunities of India and Bangladesh are now on an excellent platform.

He sought government support to allow Bangladeshi businessmen to invest in India to have better business.

“Bangladesh has a quite large market in India, especially in its northeastern region because of its geographical proximity and lower transportation cost,” he said seeking government permission to set up offices in India for better business operation.

Mr Matlub said both the Indian Commission in Dhaka and the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi are issuing one-year multiple visas for business people, which will help strengthen trade ties between the two countries.

Indian envoy Pankaj Saran said the high-level delegation from India reflects India’s larger engagement in Bangladesh. “This is a very good trend and I am confident that we both will be able to explore opportunities through the event.”

One-to-one business meetings have been arranged for boosting network among the business communities of both the countries.

More than 30 companies from Bangladesh and India in six pavilions and 33 stalls are showcasing different products and services.

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