March 2017 \ Interviews \ DIPLOMATIC INTERVIEW
“Our relationship with India is based on mutual benefit and equality”

H.E. Syed Muazzem Ali, High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India

What is the quantum of exports from India to Bangladesh, and what are the main items that are exported?

Major export Items from India to Bangladesh are Cotton and Agricultural products which accounts for almost 2 Billion US Dollar each. Other items are Vehicles other than railway or tramway rolling- stock and parts and accessories; machinery and mechanical appliances, Iron and steel; Plastics; Tanning or dyeing extracts, tannins and their derivatives, dyes, Salt, sulphur, earths and stone, plastering materials, lime and cement; Electrical machinery and equipment and parts, Coffee, tea and spices; rubber products etc.

Please give us an idea of the presence of Indian firms in Bangladesh, and what are the main areas of investment that can be of interest to Indian nationals?

You will agree that in this age of globalization, greater economic integration is the call of the day worldwide. It is necessary to view trade and investment together. Bangladesh has to get large Indian investments to develop various industrialized goods on “buy-back” basis as it already exists between the USA and Canada. Indian investors should take advantage of our cheaper labour costs and closer proximity to North-East markets. To this end, several Indian mega companies like Hero-Honda, Tata group or CEAT Tire companies have set up such projects in Bangladesh. These are small projects but they mark the beginning of this process. In order to balance the huge trade gap, we need bigger projects.

Is there a promotion of Bangladesh tourism in India? If so, what is the outcome?

Yes, the tourism sector is improving fast. There is no alternative to peoples’ friendship in any bilateral relations. We are lucky that the emotional bond and people-to-people contacts between our two countries, having genesis in our common history and struggle, form the strongest and most treasured part of our relationship. The people-to-people contact has increased manifold over the past years. Large number of Bangladeshis visits India every year for tourism, trade and treatment purposes. Increased connectivity would promote tourism further in our region and beyond. Also, a large number of trained Indians work in Bangladesh and they remit about 4 billion USD every year.

During Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Bangladesh, we have started Dhaka-Guwahati and Dhaka-Kolkata and Agartala Bus services. We have already upgraded our Mission in Agartala to Assistant High Commission level, and are going to open soon a new Deputy High Commission in Guwahati. We had earlier opened a Deputy High Commission in Mumbai. Both countries are now setting up Integrated Border Check Posts to facilitate passage of passengers and transportation of goods. So far, three such IC Posts have been established in Agartala-Akhaura, Benapole-Petrapole and Banglabandha areas. These ICPs will also significantly improve the connectivity between our two countries and in the sub-region.