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Indo-Bangladesh Connectivity and Economic Partnership (25 July 2020)

Indo-Bangladesh Connectivity and Economic Partnership (25 July 2020)

Context

As a ‘historic milestone’ in the Indo-Bangladesh connectivity and economic partnership the first-ever container cargo from Kolkata via Bangladesh’s Chattogram port has reached Agartala.

Background

  • The first trial container ship, flagged off last week, from Kolkata carrying cargo meant for Agartala reached the city via the Chattogram port.
  • India and Bangladesh have enhanced cooperation in shipping and inland water trade in 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 been added recently.

Summary of the Debate

A new milestone as far as Indi-Bangladesh relationship is concerned

  • The transshipment shows that the leadership on both sides is focused on making decisions and image001.jpgimplementing them.
  • It is perfect timing when the economies of both sides are slowing down due to Pandemic. Such project helps in regaining the economic strength.
  • This is a confidence generator between two countries that they can work together on critical issues.
  • Countries like China and Pakistan pressurized Bangladesh to keep it away from India but it is the diplomatic win for India at last.

Importance of such connectivity projects

  • Environmental aspect: The river and sea routes have a less environmental impact as compared to Rail and Road routes.
  • Helpful for Bangladesh Economy: It is the next stage of economic recovery for India and Bangladesh. North East India is a huge potential market for Bangladesh.
  • The impetus to Regional and Sub-Regional cooperation: It created a positive signal to BBIN and BIMSTEC cooperation.
    • This transshipment will benefit the landlocked countries like Nepal and Bhutan.
    • This will encourage other countries in the region to have such facilities to boost their economic ties.
    • Bangladesh’s project to get power from Nepal and Bangladesh will get boost.
  • People to People connect: Such projects will create jobs in Bangladesh and people will get benefitted from this and that will enhance the people to people connect between both the countries.
  • Lesser time-lesser cost: It cut short the travel distance from the Kolkata to Agartala from 1600 km to 450 km only. The transportation through transshipment cost significantly less as compared to the road and rails.
    • It will enhance the connectivity of Delhi to its North-Eastern part and the economy will get a boost.
  • Benefits to North-East part: North east India has a huge market and India wants this area to play a bigger role in its economy. The fast and robust connectivity will help Indian and Bangladesh’s manufacturers to have great access to this market. 

India-Bangladesh Economic and Commercial Relationshipport call.PNG

  • Bangladesh is India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia.
  • Bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh has grown steadily over the last decade.
  • India’s exports to Bangladesh in FY 2018-19 stood at US$ 9.21 bn and imports from Bangladesh during the same period were US$1.04 bn.
  • Cooperation in power sector has become one of the hallmarks of India-Bangladesh relations.
  • Bangladesh is currently importing 1160 MW of power from India.
  • India’s projects in Bangladesh:
    • 11 Water treatment plants
    • 36 community clinics
    • Cooperation between institutions of India and Bangladesh in professional skill development and human resource development.
    • India’s largest power project overseas going to built-in Bangladesh
    • India is setting up Computer labs and language labs in 500 schools of Bangladesh.

What more needs to be done to scale up our already robust ties?

  • We need to expedite the ongoing connectivity projects.
  • Bangladesh needs more electricity power to run its economy and India can help in this.
  • The tourism sector has lot of potential and Indian tourists can be encouraged to visit there and vice versa.
  • To have good relationships in the long run, people to people engagements must increase and improved.
  • Both the countries have solved many critical issues, like land boundary agreement, and must solve the other ones (like Teesta River Dispute).

Conclusion

India-Bangladesh bilateral relationship is in the good place and has scaled new heights. The transshipment partnership is a positive development in the right direction and it can show us the way to many more projects in the months and years to come.

Types of the port on the basis of specialised functions:

Oil Ports: These ports deal in the processing and shipping of oil. Some of these are tanker ports and some are refinery ports. Maracaibo in Venezuela, Esskhira in Tunisia, Tripoli in Lebanon are tanker ports. Abadan on the Gulf of Persia is a refinery port

Ports of Call: These are the ports which originally developed as calling points on main sea routes where ships used to anchor for refueling, watering, and taking food items. Later on, they developed into commercial ports. Aden, Honolulu, and Singapore are good examples.

Packet Station: These are also known as ferry ports. These packet stations are exclusively concerned with the transportation of passengers and mail across water bodies covering short distances. These stations occur in pairs located in such a way that they face each other across the water body, e.g. Dover in England and Calais in France across the English Channel.

Entrepot Ports: These are collection centers where the goods are brought from different countries for export. Singapore is an entrepot for Asia.

Naval Ports: These are ports which have only strategic importance. These ports serve warships and have repair workshops for them. Kochi and Karwar are examples of such ports in India

Main Points Made by the Guests

1. Veena Sikri, Former Ambassador

  • The transshipment shows that the leadership on both sides is focused on taking decisions and implementing them.
  • India’s projects in Bangladesh: 11 Water treatment plants, 36 community clinics, Cooperation between institutions of India and Bangladesh in professional skill development, and human resource development.

2. Harsh V. Pant, Head, Strategic Studies, ORF

  • It is a next stage of economic recovery for India and Bangladesh. North East India is a huge potential market for Bangladesh.
  • Such projects will create jobs in Bangladesh and people will get benefitted from this and that will enhance the people to people connect between both the countries.

3. Alok Bansal, Director, India Foundation

  • We need to expedite the ongoing connectivity projects. Bangladesh needs more electrical power to run its economy and India can help in this.
  • The tourism sector has lot of potential and Indian tourists can be encouraged to visit there and vice versa.

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