The India-Bangladesh CEO Forum will meet soon for the first time, even as the two countries work towards finalising a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) to deepen trade and economic ties as partners rather than competitors, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said.
Congratulating the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the country’s transition from a less developed country to developing nation status, Goyal said India stands “shoulder to shoulder” with the country’s leadership and people in their development journey.
Noting that India-Bangladesh supply chains worked uninterrupted through the pandemic, he said improving connectivity is “imperative” for expanding and realising the potential for bilateral trade and investments. The two countries’ leaders have brought Delhi and Dhaka closer and can together bring economic prosperity to South Asia, he said.
“Since 2014, we have scaled up our trade and economic engagement as partners and not competitors. Bangladesh is India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia with a volume of over US$ 10 billion. We are looking to advance a CEPA with Bangladesh,” he said. India, he said, had sent over one crore Covid-19 vaccines to the country and has extended concessional credit lines of about US$ 8 billion, the highest for any single country.
“We are looking forward to hold the first meeting of the India Bangladesh CEOs Forum to promote mutual investments. A bilateral textile industry forum has also been constituted to facilitate cooperation in the textile sector,” Goyal said, emphasising that over 350 Indian companies are now registered in Bangladesh.
“India is also developing two Indian economic zones at Mirsarai and Mongla. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to 50 young entrepreneurs from Bangladesh will further augment our ties,” he pointed out at the Bangladesh International Investment summit. The summit’s theme Shonar Bangla, he said, truly reflects its growth story.
The Minister identified five focus areas that could strengthen bilateral economic ties — technology, connectivity, entrepreneurship, health and tourism — and said “a true partnership is about encouraging and assisting each other in their responsibilities and aspirations”.
“Sharing a common history gives us an opportunity to make new history together. Let us work with the spirit of friendship and brotherhood to write a new chapter of economic prosperity in South Asia,” he said in conclusion.
The two countries will be celebrating December 6 as Maitri Divas, to mark 50 years of Bangladesh’s independence and its bilateral ties with India which was the first country to recognise its independence, along with the birth centenary year of its founder president Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.