Quarterly Newsletter
Issue #13, January-March, 2023


India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal Quadrilateral cooperation | March 23, 2023
“The political consensus in the subregion, among concerned nations and stakeholders, is imperative to strengthen connectivity in the subregion and transform the transport corridors into economic corridors,” says a report titled “Multimodal Connectivity for Shared Prosperity: Towards Facilitating Trade in the BBIN Subregion” that was published as a part of the CUTS project.

All Powers Combined: Why It's Time For An India-Bangladesh-Bhutan-Nepal Regional Electricity Grid | January 09, 2023
It is more or less certain that 2023 will be a difficult year for the world economy. For the first time since the end of the Cold War; the US, Europe and one-time growth engine China, are together entering a recessionary phase. Hence, it is time for Bangladesh and Nepal to expand energy trade with India, to survive the double attack of low export opportunities and high import bills.

Cross-border electricity trade among BBIN countries offers mutual benefits | February 28, 2023
Since Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal have variations in the availability of energy resources and demand patterns, exploiting the untapped potential of greater cooperation can help them generate the least-cost electricity, address seasonal energy scarcity and advance the promotion of renewable energy.

Energizing the India-Bangladesh Partnership | March 24, 2023

Cooperation in the energy sector has emerged as a hallmark of cooperation between India and Bangladesh. At a time when the world is staring at an energy crisis given the supply chain disruptions caused by the Russia-Ukraine war, the synergy that Dhaka and India have shown in the energy sector is exemplary.
Hydropower imports from Nepal, Bhutan: Bangladesh for 'visible' Indian cooperation
State Minister for Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid has sought "visible Indian cooperation" for importing hydropower from Nepal and Bhutan.
At a bilateral meeting on electricity cooperation between Bangladesh and India, the growth of Bangladesh's power sector and the rising demand for electricity were discussed. In response, the capacity of India to supply more electricity to northern Bangladesh and the growing interest of Indian private companies in exporting renewable energy to Bangladesh was highlighted. 
43Km Sylhet-Sheola Road: Dual carriageway to boost regional links 
The government is going to turn the 43km Sylhet to Sheola Land Port road into a dual carriageway to improve regional connectivity.

The Roads and Highways Department has sent a project proposal to the Planning Commission to upgrade the two-lane road into a four-lane road with service roads. Expansion of the highway will enhance cross-border trade and commerce. It would create a new scope for exporting commodities to Northeast India. The Sylhet-Sheola highway is also a part of Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) corridor and SASEC corridor.
India approves key sea-air route for Bangladeshi exports
India has decided to open the Delhi Air Cargo complex for Bangladeshi transit cargo, in an apparent reciprocal move, aiming to advance its regional trade hub goals. 
The Indian government, on its own, approved Bangladesh's transhipment cargo to be handled at the air cargo complex from 15 February, according to India's Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC). Bangladeshi exporters had been using the Kolkata air cargo complex since June 2020, but fewer flight connections there limited their ability to take advantage of the alternative trade corridor.
Push for Free Trade Agreement between Bangladesh, Nepal
Bangladesh has suggested exploring the possibilities of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Nepal to increase two-way trade.
The foreign minister mentioned that the two countries have a lot of potentials for mutual cooperation in the fields of energy, tourism, education, migration, and connectivity. They pointed out that both Nepal and Bangladesh are graduating from LDC in 2026. Thus, both countries have enormous opportunities to work together for a smooth LDC graduation. They can also work together to take the bilateral relationship forward and enhance collaboration in hydropower and infrastructure development under regional and sub-regional platforms.
How an Indo-Bhutan Border Market Has Moved Beyond Narratives of Conflict and Security
Local trade dynamics and shared inter-dependence of resources among local communities at the border markets hold important lessons for engendering cooperation and the benefits of peaceful, stable and open (yet regulated) borders.
The case of Dadgiri-Hatisar provides an alternate narrative of cross-border market spaces that involve people-to-people cooperation across boundaries. While the impact of the border market on the larger scheme of the formal Indo-Bhutan trade relationship may be minimal, its effect on deepening formal bilateral relations between the two countries and promoting economic welfare should be explored in depth.
India’s aid to Bhutan rises from Rs 2,266 crore to Rs 2,400 crore, reflects its Neighbourhood First Policy 
The allocation of India’s foreign aid reflects India’s emphasis on its Neighbourhood First policy as well as being a responsible leading power and a voice for the Global South.
India has been Bhutan’s foremost development partner. The bilateral relationship between India and Bhutan shares unique and time-tested traditionally close ties, characterized by utmost trust, goodwill and mutual understanding. India has been a consistent supporter of Bhutan’s socio-economic development, best reflected in their hydropower cooperation, a sector that is the primary driver of Bhutan’s economy contributing 14% to its GDP. 
B20 events in India’s North East open door for opportunities in Bhutan
The third B20 event was concluded in Sikkim last week at Gangtok. The topic for this B20 meeting was ‘opportunities for multilateral business partnership in tourism, hospitality, pharmaceuticals and organic farming’.
Sikkim has a range of indigenous seeds and plants, and there is a need to build capacity among new-generation farmers and train them on newer methods of organic farming. There should be establishment of interdisciplinary institutions that deal with training, research, experimentation, productivity enhancement, processing, marketing, and other areas to promote organic culture. Since Bhutan shares a border with Sikkim, it is expected that the Himalayan country which is also rich in Flora, might massively benefit from the move.
Bangladesh to allow Bhutan access to its ports for trade 
Bangladesh will open up three of its ports for Bhutan to facilitate trade with other countries.

Wedged between China and India, Bhutan depends solely on Indian ports for supply of essential goods, including fuel, and trade with other countries. Bangladesh and Bhutan signed a fresh transit agreement after years of negotiations on opening the ports of Mongla, Payra and Chittagong. The agreement provides Bhutan with greater connectivity with necessary transit facilities for the movement of goods.
‘India can boost international trade by making borders superfluid': World Bank country director 
India can increase inter-regional trade with its neighboring countries threefold by making international borders superfluid for the seamless movement of logistics, goods and tourists: World Bank country director, Auguste Tano Kouame
Speaking on the sidelines of a brainstorming session ‘Unlocking Economic Opportunities for Northeast (NE) States’, Kouame stated that impediments in the full implementation of the Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) 2015 signed and ratified by India, Bangladesh and Nepal must be removed to ensure smooth movement. The MVA is an important step towards this direction and can bring increased economic opportunities to rural communities in the NE.
How the India-Bangladesh waterway builds cooperation | January 24, 2023
As the two countries expand river-based trade and travel, environmental and local concerns have been integrated into the planning of transboundary waterways projects.
Transboundary cooperation between India and Bangladesh remains a work in progress – but collaboration on shipping presents great potential for increasing trade, while lowering the carbon footprint of transportation. The ability to incorporate scientific, environmental and local concerns in a quick and transparent manner – and to consistently and effectively implement the resulting decisions and policies – will be key to its long-term success.
Foreign Secy Kwatra, Nepal Deputy PM discuss railways, trade, energy, G20
Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra called on Nepal's Deputy Prime Minister and discussed railways, treaties and agreements between the two countries.
Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra held talks with the Nepal's top leaders on the entire range of multifaceted cooperation between the two neighbouring countries, including connectivity, trade and transit, power sector cooperation, agriculture, education, culture, health sector, and people to people relations, among others. The two Foreign Secretaries also discussed multilateral and regional cooperation.
Rupee and Taka to replace Dollar as currency of exchange between India, Bangladesh 
India is among the top three import destinations for Bangladesh. The arrangement will first be rolled out on a trial basis before a wider implementation for the people of the two South Asian neighbours.

India and Bangladesh may soon do away with dollar as the currency of exchange between the two South Asian neighbours. The development is expected to reduce the cost of trade as well as losses due to Rupee-Dollar and Taka-Dollar differences. The rollout will first take place on a test basis, before a formalisation of the process for the public by the public sector banks of the two countries.
Nepal implements its first trade logistics policy
The policy mainly focuses on reducing costs and managing trade and the supply chain.
Nepal lacks insufficient and qualitative trade infrastructure and service and the lack of coordination among inter-agencies and inter-countries has increased the national and international trade costs, reducing competitiveness. The government has introduced the Trade Logistics Policy to enhance the competitive capacity of a trade by minimising the cost through a modern, capable and integrated logistics system. The policy aims to promote private and external investment.
India positive on Nepal's proposal to export power to Bangladesh
The 10th meeting of Nepal-India Energy Secretary-Level Joint Steering Committee has concluded with pivotal decisions on the expansion of electricity transmission lines and trade promotion between the two countries.

The 10th JSC meeting was a turning point for power production, transmission and trade. India has positively accepted the proposal made by Nepal to export electricity to Bangladesh using India's transmission grid, and further necessary agreement will be inked after Nepal sends the name of the hydropower project. Furthermore, a memorandum of understanding with India's NTPC will soon be signed to provide consulting services and capacity building in the solar and other energy sectors in Nepal.
India raises Nepal grant by 29 percent to Rs8.8 billion
In 2022-23, the southern neighbour had pledged Rs12 billion in grants but was revised down to Rs6.8 billion.
India has increased its annual grant to Nepal by 29.41 percent. The Indian government through its union budget for the fiscal year 2023-24 has allocated Rs8.8 billion (IRs5.50 billion) to Nepal. In 2021-22, India provided Rs7.13 billion in grants to Nepal. The grant pledged to Nepal is the second highest among the South Asian countries, after Bhutan.
India, Nepal jointly inaugurate two Dharchula International Suspension bridges 
The two bridges have been built by Nepal at Malla Ghat and Garbhadhar on Lipulekh road.1 Crore Nepalese Rupees have been spent on the construction of each bridge.
Two international jhula bridges between India and Nepal have been inaugurated. The bridges are expected to strengthen the ties between the two nations. They will be beneficial for 70,000 people living on both sides. It will help them in their commutation. Earlier, the people used to face difficulties in commutation. The bridge will serve as a stepping stone to strengthening relations between the two countries.
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