Investments from India worth over $3 billion have been registered with the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), said Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Indian high commissioner to Bangladesh, yesterday.
More investments in the power, liquefied natural gas and port sectors in Bangladesh are in the pipeline as there is great business potential here, said the top Indian diplomat at the inauguration of the three-day Indo-Bangla Trade Fair 2017 at Sonragaon Hotel in Dhaka.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed opened the fourth version of the fair as chief guest. The India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) organised the fair to display products and services from both countries to the customers.
Companies from both India and Bangladesh are also exploring new opportunities for investments and to set up joint ventures in each other's countries, said Shringla.
Indian companies such as Marico, CEAT, Tata Motors, Godrej, Sun Pharma, Asian Paints have made substantial investments in Bangladesh, the high commissioner said.
India has also been offered exclusive sites by Bangladesh to establish special economic zones, he said. These zones may be at Mongla or Chittagong, he added.
“With the India-Bangladesh trade and commercial relationship growing at a substantial pace, Bangladesh is now India's biggest trade partner in South Asia.”
In the last 15 years, Bangladesh's exports to India have grown tenfold and India's exports to Bangladesh six times. Bilateral trade in 2015-16 stood at $6.14 billion, Shringla said.
In November last year, IBCCI had organised a fruitful discussion on enhancing India-Bangladesh Waterways Connectivity, which saw good participation from both the countries.
“In an important development in waterways and sea connectivity between India and Bangladesh, the first container ship will arrive from Kolkata to Pangaon Inland Container Terminal tomorrow (Friday) under the Coastal Shipping Agreement between our two countries,” he said.
Around 60 companies from India and Bangladesh, from diverse sectors like automobiles, pharmaceuticals and chemicals, are participating in the fair.
This also includes business delegations from Confederation of Indian Industry and Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kolkata.
Tofail Ahmed urged the Indian government to remove the tariff, para-tariff and non-tariff barriers for a higher export of goods from Bangladesh to India.
The balance of trade between the two countries is heavily tilted towards India because Bangladesh imports a lot of raw materials and food items from there, he said.
India has given duty-free access to all Bangladeshi goods except 25 alcoholic and beverage items. “I am happy that a large amount of investment is coming to Bangladesh,” Ahmed said.
Abdul Matlub Ahmad, president of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Taskeen Ahmed, president of IBCCI, Abhijeet Chakravorty, country head at State Bank of India, Ambarish Dasgupta, leader of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry Delegation, and Pankaj Tandon, leader of the Confederation of Indian Industry Delegation, also spoke.