GUWAHATI: Bangladesh high commissioner to India, Muhammad Imran, met Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal in Guwahati on Friday to boost trade and commerce relations.
During PM Modi’s upcoming Bangladesh visit which is likely in March, the issue of resuming train services between Karimganj in south Assam and Dhaka may be taken up, sources privy to the meeting said.
During the meeting, Sonowal flagged issues concerning bilateral trade and commerce for the mutual interests of both Bangladesh and Assam. Sonowal, while highlighting areas like agriculture, agricultural products, information technology and textile, said both Assam and Bangladesh should work to explore markets in their respective territories for mutual benefits.
“Since Assam is a next-door neighbour to Bangladesh, there should be frequent exchange programmes between both the geographical entities,” Sonowal said, while advocating for improvement of connectivity between Assam and Bangladesh through waterways, airways and roadways.
Bangladesh envoy, Imran said his country is very eager to have more trade and cultural ties with Assam. He also emphasized on re-strengthening import and export between Assam and Bangladesh with cooperative collaborations.
Sources said that in 2018-19, the total trade between India and Bangladesh was over 10 billion US dollar, but in 2019-20, it declined by 7.82 percent and stood at 9.45 billion. But, trade between Assam and Bangladesh has been less than 1 percent of the total trade, much below the trade with West Bengal.
“Despite all odds, effort is to deepen ties and enhance the cross-border trade. All connectivity routes need to be restored,” the source added. Coal, ginger, orange, other citrus fruits are among the commodities exported to Bangladesh via Assam, while food items, fabric and cement are amongst other commodities being imported to Assam.