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New trade links through pre-partion routes envisaged in Northeast

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Agartala, Sep 14: A vital conference took place in Agartala on Wednesday titled ‘Exploring New Trade Routes: India’s North East to the Bay of Bengal via Bangladesh Transit Agreement’. The main focus of this conference was on reestablishing pre-partition trade routes and tackle the existing bottlenecks, particularly the high logistical costs, which have posed a significant challenge to trade between India and Bangladesh.

At the event, several prominent figures from the fields of trade and logistics addressed the challenges hindering trade between India and Bangladesh.

To name some of the attendees, they included Smita Panth, Joint Secretary MEA (Bangladesh and Myanmar); Aditya Mishra, chairman of the Land Port Authority of India; Assistant High Commissioner of Bangladesh in Agartala, Arif Mohammad; representatives from the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM); as well as members from various import-export associations and logistics businesses.

While talking to the reporters, Joint Secretary MEA emphasised India and Bangladesh’s joint efforts to enhance connectivity by resurrecting historical trade routes and increasing trade volume.

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She also informed about the remarkable growth in India-Bangladesh trade, which has expanded from $450 million to $18 billion in recent years. She also emphasised that further growth depends on reducing logistical costs and developing infrastructure to support connectivity.

At the conference, topics such as the restoration of disrupted rail links, like the Chilahati-Haldibari link, and the inauguration of the Akhaura-Agartala rail link were also discussed.

Also,  inland water connectivity, especially the Sonamura-Dautkandi route, was explored, enabling Tripura to connect to the national waterways.

Aditya Mishra, chairman of the Land Port Authority of India, said that this new connectivity would attract new investments, reduce freight costs, and shorten transportation times.

Pramod Kumar Srivastava, chairman of the Logistic Council at ASSOCHAM, highlighted the potential economic benefits for Tripura due to increased connectivity, leading to investment, the growth of industries, and job creation. However, he acknowledged the need to address existing bottlenecks for progress to occur at the desired pace.

While Sohel Kazani, who is involved in the logistics sector, stressed the importance of modernising infrastructure, setting reasonable tariffs, and advocating for a private-public partnership model for the development of North East India’s trade potential.

Also read: Why Assam government launched massive crackdown against child marriage?

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