Trade and commerce between Bangladesh and India has increased at an unprecedented rate as the two countries have been able to further consolidate their relations in the last few decades.
It, however, did not increase in parallel with the growing demand. Despite demands from business groups, trade facilities between the countries could not be expanded to a satisfactory level courtesy of varied political obligations.
According to political analysts, it will be lucrative for both countries if they can come forward to further tighten their economic ties with the spirit of prevailing pleasant relations.
There has been a new assessment of Bangladesh in West Bengal and northeast Indian states over the past few decades, and the Indian people now hold a more positive view of the country than before, they said. The changes in their outlook are a product of the improved relationships between political parties and leaderships of the two countries.
And, though the people in the northeast states and West Bengal raise objections that Bangladeshis are infiltrating India, there has been a change in their thinking due to reciprocities and shared understandings. West Bengal and Assam apart, the other northeast states are demanding boosting India’s trade relations with Dhaka.
It is assumed that the changes stemmed from Bangladesh’s dramatic economic growth as the country has chalked out detailed plans for developing its infrastructure, energy and communication sectors. Such an all-out development initiative within a limited time had never been undertaken in this region, even in the last 100 years.
These are the very factors that contribute to the rise of a new Bangladesh, the analysts observed.
With an estimated GDP of $230bn, the size of Bangladesh’s economy is almost equal to a first-tier state of India, while that of West Bengal is less than $150bn. This is because the northeast states are much more inclined to boost trade relations with Bangladesh, and the federal government backs them up as well.
With Assam demanding Rs1,000 crore from the Centre for an airport in Guwahati, it suggested that the state increase trade and communication with Dhaka so the Assamese can reach the East and South East Asian countries via Bangladesh and export goods to the countries. The northeast states, too, demand that more border haats (markets) be opened so they can strengthen their ties with Dhaka.
Moreover, the Indians are rethinking their ties with Dhaka as Bangladesh has already preceded India in terms of women’s education and employment, and child health.