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Bangladesh urged to invest in North-East India

Opportunity is knocking at the door of Bangladesh to expand its business footprint in the North-East and Eastern India as the region welcomes external as well as internal investment, a former Indian minister said Saturday.

"Improvement in trade relations with the North-East India could even take Bangladesh up to China," said Mani Shankar Aiyar, former Indian minister for development of the North-East Region, while speaking at a meeting in the city.

He made the comments at a meeting between visiting Indian business delegation and India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) at a city hotel.

IBCCI Chairman Abul Matlub Ahmad presided over the meeting while Rajeet Mitter, Indian high commissioner to Bangladesh, Kiren Rijiju, principal secretary to the chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Dr K C Nihoshe, parliamentary secretary of Nagaland, spoke on the occasion.

The 38-member business team led by Mr Aiyar is now in Bangladesh on a five-day tour, which will also take them to port city Chittagong.

During the trip, the delegation will hold talks with Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Board of Investment and Ministry of Commerce.

Top businessmen from the sectors of information technology, shipbuilding, construction materials, apparels, power, pulp, tourism, airlines, telecoms, fast-moving consumer goods, agricultural products and health care consist of the delegation.

Aiyar said Bangladesh prime minister's successful visit to India in January this year opened up unprecedented opportunities for intensified cooperation and economic integration between Bangladesh and the North-East and Eastern India.

He said until the partition of 1947 the North-East regions were prosperous, but now the region progresses at half the pace of the rest of India.

Aiyar, also a former petroleum minister, said the Indian government has earmarked 10 per cent of the national development budget for the underdeveloped region. "We have already spent 2.0 trillion Indian rupees out of 14 trillion rupees planned for infrastructure development in the region."

"This however has opened up new opportunity for investment for Bangladesh in the region. The North-East India offers Dhaka an important opportunity for expanding market and investment," he said admitting that balance of trade between the two countries is grievously out of equilibrium from the Bangladesh's point of view.

He said during the 1965 India-Pakistan War trade between the then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, and India was undisrupted. "Now there is an ebb. The historical economic relations can be restored if Bangladesh can exploit market in North-East India."

"Opportunity is now knocking at the door and Bangladesh has to grab it," Aiyar said.

K C Nihoshe said although small-scale insurgency exists in Nagaland, the separatists' activities are limited to rural areas. "There is nothing to fear. Bangladeshi industrialists and businessmen can come up and invest in the province as we welcome both internal and external investments."

Kiren Rijiju said without Bangladesh the North-East India is cut off from the rest of the world.

He said the central Indian government should integrate Bangladesh into their thoughts when they think about development of the North-East India. "This will help the region prosper. Bangladesh needs India and vice versa to achieve sustainable economic growth."

Abul Matlub Ahmad said Bangladeshi industrialists are now mature to invest in large economies such as India and Turkey in the world. "Time has come for us to invest outside the country and bring back billions of dollars in profit remittance. We would like to request the government to allow us to invest overseas."

He said the five-day tour of the Indian delegation will provide a unique opportunity to build and foster better economic ties between the two countries.

During the trip, at least eight joint ventures will be signed, the IBCCI chief said.

Rajeet Mitter said this tour would open up a window of cooperation between the two neighbouring countries. "Since the summit between the two leaders various steps have been taken to take the initiative forward."

Former ambassador Farooq Sobhan, IBCCI vice-president Dewan Sultan Ahmed and directors of IBCCI were present during the meeting. Opportunity is knocking at the door of Bangladesh to expand its business footprint in the North-East and Eastern India as the region welcomes external as well as internal investment, a former Indian minister said Saturday.

"Improvement in trade relations with the North-East India could even take Bangladesh up to China," said Mani Shankar Aiyar, former Indian minister for development of the North-East Region, while speaking at a meeting in the city.

He made the comments at a meeting between visiting Indian business delegation and India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) at a city hotel.

IBCCI Chairman Abul Matlub Ahmad presided over the meeting while Rajeet Mitter, Indian high commissioner to Bangladesh, Kiren Rijiju, principal secretary to the chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Dr K C Nihoshe, parliamentary secretary of Nagaland, spoke on the occasion.

The 38-member business team led by Mr Aiyar is now in Bangladesh on a five-day tour, which will also take them to port city Chittagong.

During the trip, the delegation will hold talks with Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Board of Investment and Ministry of Commerce.

Top businessmen from the sectors of information technology, shipbuilding, construction materials, apparels, power, pulp, tourism, airlines, telecoms, fast-moving consumer goods, agricultural products and health care consist of the delegation.

Aiyar said Bangladesh prime minister's successful visit to India in January this year opened up unprecedented opportunities for intensified cooperation and economic integration between Bangladesh and the North-East and Eastern India.

He said until the partition of 1947 the North-East regions were prosperous, but now the region progresses at half the pace of the rest of India.

Aiyar, also a former petroleum minister, said the Indian government has earmarked 10 per cent of the national development budget for the underdeveloped region. "We have already spent 2.0 trillion Indian rupees out of 14 trillion rupees planned for infrastructure development in the region."

"This however has opened up new opportunity for investment for Bangladesh in the region. The North-East India offers Dhaka an important opportunity for expanding market and investment," he said admitting that balance of trade between the two countries is grievously out of equilibrium from the Bangladesh's point of view.

He said during the 1965 India-Pakistan War trade between the then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, and India was undisrupted. "Now there is an ebb. The historical economic relations can be restored if Bangladesh can exploit market in North-East India."

"Opportunity is now knocking at the door and Bangladesh has to grab it," Aiyar said.

K C Nihoshe said although small-scale insurgency exists in Nagaland, the separatists' activities are limited to rural areas. "There is nothing to fear. Bangladeshi industrialists and businessmen can come up and invest in the province as we welcome both internal and external investments."

Kiren Rijiju said without Bangladesh the North-East India is cut off from the rest of the world.

He said the central Indian government should integrate Bangladesh into their thoughts when they think about development of the North-East India. "This will help the region prosper. Bangladesh needs India and vice versa to achieve sustainable economic growth."

Abul Matlub Ahmad said Bangladeshi industrialists are now mature to invest in large economies such as India and Turkey in the world. "Time has come for us to invest outside the country and bring back billions of dollars in profit remittance. We would like to request the government to allow us to invest overseas."

He said the five-day tour of the Indian delegation will provide a unique opportunity to build and foster better economic ties between the two countries.

During the trip, at least eight joint ventures will be signed, the IBCCI chief said.

Rajeet Mitter said this tour would open up a window of cooperation between the two neighbouring countries. "Since the summit between the two leaders various steps have been taken to take the initiative forward."

Former ambassador Farooq Sobhan, IBCCI vice-president Dewan Sultan Ahmed and directors of IBCCI were present during the meeting.