In a significant revelation, the Government of India has declared that it has surpassed Japan and China to become Bangladesh’s largest export partner. The growth in bilateral trade has been particularly noteworthy, with Bangladesh’s exports to India surging from $450 million to a remarkable $2 billion. This announcement was made during discussions centered on exploring new trade routes, specifically the Agartala-Akhaura rail link project, which promises to bolster connectivity and trade ties between the two nations.
Burgeoning Trade Relations
One of the standout points made by Ms. Smita Pant, Joint Secretary (Bangladesh and Myanmar) in the Ministry of External Affairs, is the exponential growth in bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh. The trade figures have soared, demonstrating the robust economic partnership between the two countries.
Agartala-Akhaura Rail Link Project
An eagerly awaited development on the horizon is the completion of the Agartala-Akhaura rail link project. This project, nearly finished on the Indian side, is poised to be inaugurated by the end of the year. Meanwhile, work is progressing steadily on the Bangladeshi side. Once operational, it will mark the seventh rail link connecting India and Bangladesh, further enhancing connectivity and trade opportunities. This development underscores the commitment to strengthening infrastructural ties.
Existing Railway Links
In addition to the forthcoming Agartala-Akhaura rail link, the two countries already boast five operational railway lines. These existing rail links facilitate the movement of goods and people between India and Bangladesh and have played a crucial role in fostering bilateral relations. The inclusion of the seventh rail line, connecting Assam, signifies a significant stride in regional connectivity.
The Broader Vision: Act East Policy
Ms. Pant emphasized that the Government’s Act East Policy is not solely centered on trade and investment; it is equally grounded in the principles of connectivity and people-to-people ties. This holistic approach highlights India’s commitment to fostering a comprehensive and enduring partnership with Bangladesh, encompassing economic, infrastructural, and cultural dimensions.