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Indian envoy calls for early free trade deal with Bangladesh to push growth

Finalising trade pact will be the focus for India and Bangladesh

The proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between New Delhi and Dhaka has the potential for a new institutional framework and supply chain linkage thereby enhancing bilateral trade and investment, India’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pranay Verma said. Verma who met business leaders in Dhaka also underlined the need to expand connectivity between the two neighbours.

Bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh has grown in the last five years. It is now touching almost $2 billion.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina have pressed the pedal on deepening economic ties, trade and connectivity between the two nations to deal with the rising geopolitical challenges. Both sides are also working to complete negotiations related to CEPA at a time when Bangladesh is gearing up to exit the list of least developed nations (LDC).

“It is important for both countries that share the world’s fifth largest land border to march ahead together,” Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury, retired Air Force Officer in Bangladesh, who is now a geopolitical analyst, told India Narrative.

Despite being closely linked, South Asia as a region is one of the least connected. “In South Asia, transport and trade challenges mean that it is about 15-20 per cent less expensive for an Indian company to trade with a counterpart in Brazil or Germany than in Bangladesh.  Improved connectivity can reduce trading costs, lead to greater economic growth, and reduce poverty in South Asia,” Cecile Fruman, World Bank Director, Regional Integration and Engagement, South Asia in an interview said.

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