Agartala, July 3 (IANS) Bangladesh will expand its diplomatic presence in India’s northeast to improve trade, people-to-people contacts and cultural ties with the eight states in the region, of which four share a common border with it.
Dhaka now has a diplomatic mission in Tripura capital Agartala.
“New Delhi has accepted Dhaka’s proposal to open a new Bangladesh deputy high commission in Guwahati in Assam,” a Bangladesh foreign ministry official told IANS.
The official, who requested not to be named, said the Agartala mission would also be upgraded as an assistant high commission.
“The proposed deputy high commission in Guwahati will have consular jurisdiction over Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh,” the official said.
The new deputy high commission in Guwahati was likely to open next year. According to the official, the process for upgrading the mission in Agartala would be completed by September.
Bangladesh already has diplomatic missions in New Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. In return, Dhaka has allowed New Delhi to open assistant high commissions in Khulna and Sylhet, the official added.
“Extension and upgradation of the Bangladesh missions in northeast India will boost trade and economy, people-to-people contact and cultural relations between Bangladesh and the northeastern region,” the official said.
Tripura and other states in the northeast are keen to improve trade and business with Bangladesh.
According to Tripura’s Commerce Minister Tapan Chakraborty, trade between Dhaka and Agartala alone has increased from Rs.164 crore during 2009-10 to over Rs.300 crore in the last financial year.
In the current fiscal (2015-16), it is expected to cross Rs.400 crore, an official told IANS.
India and Bangladesh had earlier decided to upgrade the existing 27 custom stations in Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram.
“With the opening of more Bangladesh diplomatic missions in northeast India, trade and business will further improve,” Tripura Chambers of Commerce and Industries president M.L. Debnath told IANS.
Prime Ministers Narendra Modi of India and Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh discussed possible improvement in trade and economic activities when the former visited Dhaka on June 6-7.
India and Bangladesh have so far set up four “border haats” or markets — two each in Meghalaya and Tripura frontiers — to boost trade in local produce on both sides of the border.
Tripura (856 km), Meghalaya (443 km), Mizoram (318 km) and Assam (263 km) share an 1,880-km border with Bangladesh.