Bangladesh has asked the Indian side for a “predictable supply” of India’s essential foodstuffs such as rice, wheat, sugar, onion, ginger and garlic.
The Indian side said that Bangladesh’s requests will be “favourably considered” based on the prevailing supply conditions in India, and that every effort will be made in this regard.
The issue was discussed during bilateral talks between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Tuesday.
The two leaders welcomed the growth in bilateral trade, with India emerging as Bangladesh’s top export destination in Asia, according to a 33-point joint statement released after the talks on Wednesday.
They also expressed their satisfaction with the intensification of the bilateral defense relations and also agreed on the speedy finalization of the projects under the defense credit line, which would be beneficial for both countries.
India welcomed the finalization of the initial vehicle procurement plans for the Bangladesh Armed Forces in this regard and looked forward to enhanced bilateral defense ties.
The Indian side reiterated its demand for the speedy implementation of the 2019 Memorandum of Understanding for the provision of Coastal Radar System for greater maritime security.
CEPA Negotiations Guidelines
Bangladesh and India have agreed to start negotiations in the calendar year 2022 for the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
Hasina and his Indian counterpart urged trade officials on both sides to conclude these negotiations at the earliest and in time for Bangladesh’s final graduation from LDC status.
The two leaders welcomed the recent finalization of a joint feasibility study which recommended that CEPA will benefit both countries, according to the joint statement.
Modi said on Tuesday that Bangladesh was India’s biggest development partner and biggest trading partner in the region.
With the expansion of connectivity between the two countries and the development of trade infrastructure at the border, the two economies will be able to connect more, support each other, Modi said, adding that their bilateral trade is growing rapidly.
During Modi’s visit to Bangladesh from March 26-27 last year, the two sides discussed the prospects of concluding a CEPA.
To strengthen trade between the two countries, the two prime ministers stressed the need to remove non-tariff barriers.
India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) Chairman Abdul Matlub Ahmad said CEPA, which is currently under discussion, will be a win-win solution for both countries.
Reiterating the importance of facilitating trade between the two countries, Hasina and Modi underscored the urgent need to upgrade the infrastructure and facilities of land customs posts/land ports, and remove port restrictions and other non-tariff barriers at identified lands. Custom stations, according to the joint statement.
The Indian side reiterated its demand for at least one major land port with no port restrictions or negative list of restrictions, bordering India’s northeastern states, for easier market access, starting with ICP Agartala-Akhaura.
The two leaders welcomed the progress made on India’s proposal to fund the development of a second cargo gate at Petrapole-Benapole ICP and urged officials to complete the work at the earliest.
Prime Minister Hasina is on a four-day state visit to India from September 5-8 at the invitation of the Prime Minister of India.
During the visit, she visited Indian President Draupadi Murmu and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and North East Region Development Minister G. Kishan Reddy visited him.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s program also includes the launch of the “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Scholarship” for 200 descendants of members of the Indian Armed Forces who were martyred or seriously injured during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.
She also spoke on Wednesday at a business event jointly organized by the Indian and Bangladeshi business communities.
The two prime ministers held a restricted meeting and one-on-one on Tuesday followed by delegation-level discussions.
The two leaders welcomed the excellent state of bilateral relations, based on deep historical and fraternal ties and shared values of democracy and pluralism, which are reflected in a comprehensive bilateral partnership, based on sovereignty, equality , trust and understanding that transcends even a strategic partnership.
They recalled Modi’s state visit in March 2021 to join the celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence, the centenary of the birth of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Bangladesh, which was followed by the state visit of the President of India in December 2021, to attend the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Bangladesh’s Victory Day, in as guest of honor.