Bangladesh can be regional transport hub, says Muhith

A Monitor Report 16 Apr, 2017  |    -      +
New Delhi : Bangladesh has the potential to become the transport and transshipment hub for India, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Myanmar for their collective economic growth, AMA Muhith, Minister for Finance, has said.

His comments came in a statement at the end of the "Finance Minister's meeting of South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC)" hosted by India in collaboration with Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The meeting brought together finance ministers from seven SASEC member nations- Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka-- to launch SASEC Vision Document 2025.

Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister of India presided over the day-long meeting, in which Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem Ali was also present.

Muhith said Bangladesh's closeness with India, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal and China's Kunming makes it an ideal regional hub of connectivity.

A further improvement of the multi-modal connectivity will "lead to enhanced economic cooperation among the countries of the region," he said.

He said Bangladesh's under-construction Padma Bridge will also help improve connectivity with the neighbouring countries.

Bangladesh, Muhith said, is being supported under SASEC to strengthen road, rail and maritime connectivity with neighbouring countries along the key trade routes.

As part of the ADB-assisted SASEC platform for regional power trade and interconnection arrangements, Bangladesh has expanded power sharing arrangements with India, which will possibly be expanded with Bhutan and Nepal (via India), he said.

Muhith said Bangladesh government is also very keen to take necessary steps for a more enabling environment to boost intra-sub-regional trade.

Building a National Trade Portal is almost finalised with a view to processing and issuing of import export registration certificate as it is connected with the national single window system.

"I would like to reiterate here that Bangladesh government is committed to introduce necessary reforms in its legal and regulatory environment and its institutional procedures and practices to meet international standards," said the finance minister.

Hailing the adoption of SASEC vision document 2025, Muhith said it defines the strategic objectives on South-Asian transport, trade facilitation and energy besides; exploring the potential of Economic Corridor Development.

SASEC aims to combine economic corridors being developed in individual SASEC countries in order to maximise the development impacts of investments through cross border links.

He said Bangladesh is discussing two major corridors to pass through the most economically advanced region of the country, Dhaka. The first is on the Banglabandha-Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox Bazar route, the second on the Sylhet-Dhaka-Khulna route.

The synergic effect of these in-country economic corridors will result in a larger regional impact with improved infrastructure and connectivity.

SAARC, SASEC and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) initiatives may coordinate with each other to bring synergy in regional cooperation.

In this regard, six priority sectors were identified by the countries: energy and power, transportation, tourism, environment, trade, investment and private sector cooperation, and ICT.

Up to December, 2016, as many as 43 SASEC projects of US$8.9 billion have been completed or under way in these sectors.

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