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Intra-Regional Co-operation in Trade, Tourism and Investment in Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal

The recent visit of the Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina to India has implications for the co-operation not only for India-Bangladesh trade ties with reference to the North-East region but also for Bhutan, Nepal & the entire South East Asia region.


Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  30 Sep 2022 4:05 AM GMT

SM Farid


The recent visit of the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India has implications for the co-operation not only for India-Bangladesh trade ties with reference to the North-East region but also for Bhutan, Nepal and the entire South East Asia region. The Bangladeshi Prime Minister invited Indian investors to invest in infrastructure, energy, manufacturing and set up industries through Buy-Back arrangements. She also mentioned about the two dedicated Special Economic Zones at Mongla and Mirsarai.

The Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal (BBIN) region is moving forward to achieve greater sub-regional economic interaction and transport connectivity. The governments of these countries are launching various national, bilateral, trilateral and sub-regional initiatives in this field for pursuing a more integrated development roadmap. These initiatives will bolster faster and safer trade, transit and transportation system in this sub-region.

In this context, a study on catalytic multimodal connectivity initiated in the BBIN sub-region reviewed four recent stories, one each for the four countries. This study aims to underscore the scale and impact of contemporary infrastructure connectivity initiatives. They reflect the in-depth view of the intra and inter-regional dimensions of connectivity, tourism, trade and commerce.

There is potential of twin towns in promoting intra-regional trade and tourism and investment along with overall development of the border towns and border haats, with the setting up of border points in the BBIN. Some instances are Raxaul in India and Birgunj in Nepal, Jaigaon in India and Phuentsholing in Bhutan and Agartala in Tripura with Akhaura in Bangladesh. The potential for trade connectivity by waterways through Dhubri in Assam and Golokganj in Bangladesh has already been discussed earlier. There have been a few success stories of twin towns such as Dawki in Meghalaya and Tamabil in Bangladesh and also with Dalu, Baghmara and Mahendraganj in the Garo hills with the Mymensingh district in Bangladesh. The border haats serve as a lifeline for the uplift of the population living on either side. There are talks of connecting the rivers Brahmaputra and Gumti for better connectivity. A study is on to examine the potential of using the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Meghna and Salween (GBMS) basins for trade and connectivity. An overall connectivity of all transboundary rivers of South Asia will yield fruitful results in the near future. The fully functional land ports can also be used for promoting cross border trade. A very important step to create cooperation, trade and commerce is by setting up joint and inter-connected economic zones at the border points. These zones can serve as centers and gateways to promote cross border trade, tourism and investment for economic development which will benefit the entire BBIN sub-region.

Economic integration between these regions will result in increased cross-border activities and network on either side of the borders, facilitating local and regional value chains and inter linkages with national and international markets.

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