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16 July 2024

Business Insider Bangladesh

Bangladesh-India to continue focus on enhancing connectivity, commerce for shared prosperity

BI Desk || BusinessInsider

Published: 23:47, 22 June 2024  
Bangladesh-India to continue focus on enhancing connectivity, commerce for shared prosperity

Photo: Collected

Bangladesh and India have jointly articulated their shared vision for peace, prosperity and development of the two neighbors and the entire region, driven by connectivity, commerce and collaboration.

"To realize the immense potential of this extra-ordinary relationship and to turn it into a transformational partnership for mutual benefits and prosperity of their people and the entire region, the two leaders have jointly articulated their following Shared Vision for peace, prosperity and development of the two neighbors and the entire region, driven by connectivity, commerce and collaboration," said a statement on conclusion of the two-day (June 21-22) visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to New Delhi.

The Ministry of External Affairs, India issued the statement this evening with headline 'India-Bangladesh Shared Vision for Future: Enhancing Connectivity, Commerce and Collaboration for Shared Prosperity'.

The statement said Bangladesh and India shared the conviction that the progress and prosperity of the two neighboring countries are interlinked and reaffirmed mutual desire to guide India-Bangladesh ties to a new era of future-oriented partnership, for which both the countries recognized each other as indispensable partners in realizing respective national development visions of "Viksit Bharat 2047" and "Smart Bangladesh Vision 2041".

As a close and valued neighbour with rapidly growing capabilities, it said, Bangladesh is at the converging point of India's "Neighbourhood First" policy, "Act East" policy, SAGAR doctrine and the Indo-Pacific vision, and an indispensable partner in the development of India's northeastern region.

On the other hand, Bangladesh valued its relationship with India as the closest and friendly neighbor, the statement said, adding that Bangladesh consider India as an important partner in the pursuit of its Neighborhood Foreign Policy for ensuring shared peace and prosperity.

"Together, we will pursue a transformative partnership that advances the shared interests in promoting multi-faceted connectivity for both our countries as well as the entire region by transforming our geographical proximity into new economic opportunities," it said.

This will include connectivity in its broadest form - physical connectivity covering multi-modal transport and cross-border trade and transit infrastructure for seamless cross-border movement of people, goods and services, as well as energy connectivity and digital connectivity, the statement said.

As part of sub-regional connectivity initiatives, it said, India will extend transit facilities for movement of Bangladesh goods to Nepal and Bhutan through railway network.

"We are committed to early operationalization of the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement to promote sub-regional connectivity. In this context, we welcome a new MoU on Railway Connectivity as well as the decision to commence goods-train service from Gede-Darshana through Chilahati-Haldibari up to Hasimara via Dalgaon railhead (as and when operationalized) at the India-Bhutan border," the statement continued.

The both countries will continue to expand power and energy collaboration and together develop intra-regional electricity trade, including of competitively-priced power generated from clean energy projects in India, Nepal and Bhutan, through the Indian electricity grid, the statement said.

"To this end, we will expedite the construction of 765 kV high-capacity interconnection between Katihar-Parbatipur-Bornagar with suitable Indian financial assistance, to act as the anchor for our grid connectivity," it added.

Underlining the pivotal role played by emerging technologies to build inclusive, sustainable and digitally empowered societies and to bring larger benefits to people of both countries, the statement said, "We are forging a new paradigm for future-oriented partnership through a 'Shared Vision for India-Bangladesh Digital Partnership' and 'Shared Vision for India-Bangladesh Green Partnership for a Sustainable Future' in line with our respective broader Vision of 'Viksit Bharat 2047 and 'Smart Bangladesh Vision 2041'."

These will build a transformative collaboration between India and Bangladesh by leveraging green and digital technologies to foster economic growth, sustainable and climate-resilient development, environmental conservation, cross-border digital interchange and regional prosperity, it said.

"We will also pursue collaboration in frontier technologies, including civil nuclear, oceanography and space technology. To this end, we will partner in joint development of a small satellite for Bangladesh and its launch using Indian launch vehicle," the statement continued.

Resolving to work towards promoting the prosperity of our people, it said, the two countries will strengthen trade and investment linkages with each other, including through early commencement of negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), early operationalization of two Special Economic Zones (SEZs) offered by Bangladesh to India in Mongla and Mirsharai, opening of new border-haats, trade facilitation to enhance bilateral trade, improving road, rail, air, and maritime connectivity and trade infrastructure which can transform geographical proximity into new economic opportunities for our peoples.

"We will also encourage and support our private sector to seek new investment opportunities in each other's priority areas of economic development," the statement added.

Recognizing the importance of water resource management in our bilateral relationship, it said, the neighbouring countries will continue to engage in prioritizing the exchange of data and formulating the framework for interim water sharing based on the recommendations of the Joint Rivers Commission.

"We welcome the formation of a Joint Technical Committee to initiate discussions for the renewal of the Ganges Water Sharing Treaty of 1996. As part of our development cooperation, we will also undertake conservation and management of Teesta River inside Bangladesh with Indian assistance within a mutually agreed timeframe," the statement said.

Appreciating the significant role of the two countries in ensuring peace, stability and harmony in the region, it said, Bangladesh and India will strengthen their defence cooperation with a long-term perspective.

"In line with the plans for modernization of the Bangladesh Armed Forces, we will explore defence industrial cooperation for modernization of the Armed Forces of Bangladesh, to strengthen their capability for defence. We will continue to work closely with Bangladesh for our multifaceted military engagements of exercises, training and capability development," the statement said.

Bangladesh and India will further bolster their development cooperation by concluding a new Framework Agreement for Development Partnership, which will expand the reach of the both countries projects and programmes in line with the priorities of the people and the government of Bangladesh and both countries' long-term vision of closer connectivity, it continued.

"We will work together to expand our capacity building programme for civil services, judicial officers, police and other specialized services of Bangladesh," the statement said.

Recognizing the shared cultural and historical heritage and vibrant people-to-people ties, it said, the both countries will nurture the existing linkages by promoting exchanges of Muktijoddhas, scholars, academics, artistes, tourists, students and youth.

"We will further raise the level of our support to the valiant Muktijoddhas and their families, with new programmes for medical and educational support," the statement said, adding that to facilitate easier cross-border travel and as a supportive gesture to the friendly people of Bangladesh, India will extend e-Medical Visa facility to people from Bangladesh travelling to India for medical treatment.

"We have agreed to open a new Assistant High Commission of India in Rangpur as a step to facilitate expeditious consular and visa services for the people of north-west region of Bangladesh," it said.

Based on availability and to the best of its abilities, India will also support Bangladesh with supply of essential commodities, the statement said.

It added: "We recognize the imperative of accelerating our partnership in sectors which promote youth development through education, skilling, entrepreneurship, technology, sports and creative and cultural industries. The India-Bangladesh partnership will respond to the expectations and aspirations of our youth for a better future."

Recognizing the contribution of the two countries partnership to peace, security and stability in the region, the statement said, "We reiterate our commitment to a free, open, inclusive, secure, and rules-based Indo-Pacific region".

"Based on our converging visions for the Indo-Pacific region and recognizing the vulnerability of the region to adverse impacts of climate change, we will co-lead the 'Disaster Risk Reduction and Management' pillar of the Indo Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI), and cooperate to mitigate disaster risks, build disaster resilient infrastructure, and contribute to the sustenance of our shared maritime region," it continued.

With their wide-ranging bilateral cooperation, the two countries also envisioned India-Bangladesh relationship to become a major anchor for regional and sub-regional integration under the BIMSTEC, SAARC and IORA architectures, the statement said, adding, "We will work together on global platforms to promote our common interests, especially the interests of Global South."

Bangladesh and India underscored the need to take the relationship to a deeper and higher quality relationship based on mutual trust and benefit in the coming days, it said, adding, "We are confident that this Shared Vision for Future will provide further impetus to strengthening our historic ties and building a future-ready partnership by further developing the current 'Sonaali Adhyaay' in our bilateral relations".