Connectivity to lead to greater Dhaka-Delhi economic growth, dev: Shringla

Business visa regime liberalised for Bangladeshis

08 Aug 2016, 17:57

Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla. File photo

Dhaka: Indian High Commissioner to Bang Harsh Vardhan Shringla has emphasised promoting economic integration, fostering linkages and connectivity between Bangladesh and India for greater economic growth and development.

Focusing on cross-border trade, transport, telecom, cyber and energy links, the High Commissioner said these issues remain ‘policy priority’ for both the countries as these will lead to greater economic growth and development.

Shringla said India has liberalised the business visa regime for Bangladeshi businesspeople and are now issuing three-five years multiple-entry business visas to further strengthen business relations between the two countries.

The Indian envoy was addressing a luncheon meeting of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) on Monday. MCCI President Syed Nasim Manzur, among others, spoke on the occasion.

The Indian diplomat said the number of three-five year business visas issued by Indian High Commission here more than doubled to 4772 in 2015 from 2272 in 2014. ‘In 2016 (till 31 May), we have issued around 2000 business visas,’ Shringla told the business leaders.

On two-way trade, the High Commissioner said Indian exports to Bangladesh have been declining for the last two years. ‘India’s exports declined by 3.6 percent in 2014-15,’ he said adding that figures for India’s exports for this year are available only for the period July 2015 - March 2016.

Indian exports during this period have declined by 4.36 percent compared to the same period in 2014-15, said the High Commissioner.

On the other hand, Shringla said, Bangladesh’s exports have been increasing for the last two years. Bangladesh’s exports saw an increase of 15.4 percent during 2014-15 and an increase of 30.8 percent in 2015-16, he said.

The bilateral trade between Bangladesh and India was US$ 6.34 billion in FY 2014-15, which represented a decline of 2.27 percent from 2013-14. The growth in bilateral trade in 2013-14 had been 21.5 percent.

Highlighting investment scenario, the diplomat said Indian investments in Bangladesh are increasing.

As announced in the Bangladesh Investment and Policy Summit in January 2016, two of the biggest business groups from India, the Adani Group of Gautam Adani and the Reliance ADAG of Anil Ambani intended to invest around US$ 11 billion in power, LNG and ports sectors in Bangladesh.

The High Commissioner mentioned that total Indian investments in Bangladesh are to the tune of US$ 3 billion and are on an upward trajectory.

According to Bangladesh Bank, Shringla said, Indian foreign direct investment (FDI) in Bangladesh increased by around 45 percent to US$ 82.79 million in 2014-15 from US$ 56.89 million in 2013-14.

On Bangladesh investment in India, he said Bangladesh investments in India are also increasing. ‘Companies such as Pran and Rahimafroze Group have invested in India.’

During his June 2015 visit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a US$ 2 billion Line of Credit for Bangladesh where Bangladesh is ‘free to choose’ the projects as per its development needs and priorities.

Under the LoC, India is supporting projects across diverse sectors such as the railways, roads, power, ICT and health.

The ICT projects include setting up 12 hi-tech parks in 12 districts, IT SEZs in Keraniganj, Dhaka and Mirsarai, Chittagong, and higher education & skill development in ICT.

Under health, it is proposed to set up 4 hospitals and medical colleges and one National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery.