Silchar: Members of the Karimganj District Importers and Exporters’ Association (KDIEA) met Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at Dispur recently and discussed with him the mechanism of enhancing trade with Bangladesh which could fetch precious foreign currency for the country and contribute towards the economic boost for Assam. The possibility of increasing import and export business with Bangladesh, pointed out Animesh Roy, president of KDIEA, has been facilitated by the Sutarkandi border trade centre, near Karimganj.
Sutarkandi has emerged as a revenue earning land custom station in comparison with other trade centres of the State, the memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister by the association claimed. It is the busiest land port station in north east through which capital goods, agricultural products, fruits and coal are exported to Bangladesh. From that side are imported beverages, cement, cotton, cookeries and plastic goods. The two-way trade business has been continuing since 1990.
KDIEA which is keenly interested to go for enhanced trade with Bangladesh rues the lack of adequate infrastructure like plant, quarantine, laboratory facilities as well cold storage. Notwithstanding the shortcomings, the association continues its business with the neighbouring country, a potential market for Indian goods. The prospect has been brightened with Land Port Authority of India taking over the stakes of Sutarkandi land customs station on September 6, 2019.
KDIEA is hopeful the Chief Minister would initiate steps to remove the bottlenecks and pave way for increasing trade activities with Bangladesh. One of the potential areas for export to Bangladesh is coal of Assam and Meghalaya. The association says this is the monopolistic market for the state. According to a rough estimate, 20 million tons of coal every year are exported from Assam and Meghalaya to Bangladesh.
But the ban by National Green Tribunal (NGT) on the extraction of coal in Meghalaya has come as a setback to this trade as the market of Bangladesh has been lost substantially, pointed out KDIEA. In order to meet the demands, Bangladesh is importing coal from Indonesia, Russia and South Africa. KDIEA has sought the help of the Chief Minister to allow them to procure coal from Umrongso, Meghalaya, Karbi Anglong and Ledu for export to Bangladesh through Sutarkandi. Animesh Roy said, “Our talks with the Chief Minister was on positive note and we are confident of giving a push to our import and export trade.”