Transit facilities should be reciprocal
Saturday, 12 July 2008

Dhaka-Delhi diplomatic meet

Delhi sought transit facilities through Bangladesh as an agreement 'for the regulation of passenger and cargo vehicular traffic between the two countries'. Officials from the ministries of commerce, communications and foreign affairs will be included in the delegation for the foreign secretary level talks. It is unfortunate that initiatives to bring the South Asian countries closer together have remained stalled for years, largely due to mutual mistrust between the governments and the peoples of this region. Greater regional cooperation is necessary not only because of the mutual benefits that it will bring for the peoples of the different countries, but also because through greater cohesion, the region will be in a much better position to achieve its tremendous potential. In this regard, we have stated on several occasions that more people-to-people contact and increased cooperation between the governments of India and Bangladesh are necessary to alleviate the mutual suspicion and mistrust that exists. The Indian government's attempts to secure passage through Bangladesh to its north-eastern states have always been linked with tariff reduction on its part for our products as an exchange. India will presumably point out at the scheduled meeting in New Delhi that she has recently agreed to reduce tariffs for certain textile products made in Bangladesh as a gesture of its generosity. We believe that while we are due such concessions from India in any case, under different trade agreements, the issue of transit must not be linked with that of tariff or other trade barriers that India imposes for Bangladeshi products. Rather, we believe that India should reciprocate for its bid to seek passage through Bangladesh by providing Bangladesh passage through India into Bhutan and Nepal. Just as passage through Bangladesh into its north-eastern states would give India a significant economic boost, passage through India into Bhutan and Nepal can give our country a similar economic advantage.

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