Quarterly Newsletter


Japan’s infra push in South Asia 
South Asia has been prioritising connectivity as a strategy for market-led growth, and Japan has emerged as an important economic partner. With Japan’s growing economic footprint, it is emerging as a viable alternative to China as a country that has the ability to invest. Unlike in the past, it is engaged in big projects like constructing ports, highways, and railways.

Thailand meet gives BBIN a push, says it is driver of sub-regional prosperity 
Representatives of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal – commonly referred to as ‘BBIN’ countries – deliberated on optimising cross-border connectivity during a side event of 79th session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok. It was suggested that a multilateral agreement on cross-border energy trade can bring greater inclusiveness and energy security, and significantly contribute to climate.

World Bank bats for South Asian connectivity to boost trade 
Bangladesh's bilateral trade with India is 10% of the country's total trade volume, while India's trade with Bangladesh is only 1% of the country's total trade volume. With better integrated regional connectivity, both the countries could hugely benefit from trade and investment within the region.

Connecting South Asia: The Promises of BBIN 

The Global Gateway Conference has recently been held in Meghalaya, India. The two-day gathering aimed to increase trade and economic development in the region by integrating the north-east of India with its neighbours Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. The conference was also a platform for investment opportunities in the fields of clean and renewable energies, health and education, and transportation connectivity.
LDC graduation and India-Bangladesh Trade 
In 2026, Bangladesh will be promoted from least-developed country to developing country. India’s assistance is unquestionably required for the transition of Bangladesh from LDC status.
In 2026, Bangladesh will no longer be classified as an LDC. The global market will then not offer many benefits. In light of this, Bangladesh and India are in the process of negotiating the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).  If this deal is signed, trade between the two nations will rise, and new investment opportunities will become available.
Buyers throng as border haat opens in Sylhet’s Bholaganj 
Expatriates’ Welfare Minister Imran Ahmed inaugurated the Indo-Bangla border haat on Saturday.

The Bholaganj border haat (marketplace) in Sylhet's Companiganj Upazila (inaugurated on May 06, 2023) received heavy footfall on its opening day. The border haat will be operating from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Initially, 24 Bangladeshi vendors and 26 Indian vendors are allowed to sell locally grown products in the marketplace.
PM offers economic zone to Bhutan for mutual benefits 
Sheikh Hasina offered Bhutan a scope to build an economic zone in Bangladesh for mutual benefits.
Bangladesh has already provided economic zones to India, Japan and South Korea. Economic zone in Kurigram can be provided to Bhutan. Bangladesh has been developing communication with its neighbours through all possible modes, including railways. Bangladesh is a connectivity hub and Bhutan can use Bangladesh's two ports and the Syedpur international airport.
BD eyes FTAs with 23 countries 
The government has completed feasibility studies on signing free trade agreements (FTAs) or preferential trade agreements (PTAs) with 23 countries, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi
Steps have been taken to initiate negotiations on signing FTA with 10 countries and three regional blocs on priority basis. To maintain the trade growth during the post-graduation period, the government is working on getting concessional market access to potential countries. The government has signed memorandum with various countries to enhance trade and investment.
India, Bhutan agree on steps to boost cooperation in hydropower, trade and space
India and Bhutan have decided to set up the first integrated check post (ICP) along the border near Jaigaon and Phuntsholing, the busiest trading point between the countries.
India and Bhutan have agreed on several new measures to enhance their cooperation in areas such as hydropower, trade and space, including the finalisation of a joint plan of action to deepen the space technology partnership. The two countries will deepen the space technology partnership by expeditiously finalising a joint plan of action.
eCMS to ease customs clearance procedures in cross-border trade 
To simplify and modernise customs procedures and facilitate legitimate trade with all the procedures across the borders, the Department of Revenue and Customs (DRC) will implement an electronic Customs Management System (eCMS) across the country.

According to the finance ministry, eCMS is expected to be implemented across the country in the fourth quarter of 2023. Once the system is implemented, DRC will be able to conduct smarter investigations and risk management, thereby improving fraud detection, conducting more targeted enforcement, and increasing revenue collection. The system would be implemented at the entry and exit points in Phuentsholing, Gelephu, Samtse, Samdrupjongkhar, and Paro International Airport.
Revival of Bay of Bengal: Bhutan and Bangladesh Agree on Sea Port Access
The development of these seaports is particularly crucial for the smaller landlocked countries of South Asia such as Nepal and Bhutan. 
In order to reap the benefits of the Bay of Bengal and individual economic growth, the South Asian states need to act in the direction of collective cooperation. Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal and India must initiate efforts to enhance the region’s infrastructure development and security utilizing the existing organizational arrangements in place to facilitate better integration in global trade. 
Development of Bhutan-Siliguri-B’desh corridor to boost trade among the nations 
Improving road connectivity in North Bengal that links the three countries Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal – will not only improve trade volume, but will also help generate employment.

Businessmen from the region want to promote the development of a Bhutan-Siliguri-Bangladesh corridor to boost trade among the neighbouring nations. Siliguri’s rail network can be used by all the countries to send consignments to Kolkata and beyond. Cargo ships go empty from Bangladesh and return loaded from India. There is a massive trade imbalance. We need to revive the river routes as it will benefit all.
New Cargo Transit Route Set To Open Connecting Northeast India And Bangladesh; Chittagong Port To Act As The Main Access Point 
With access to Chittagong port — which is just 70 km from Sabroom, Tripura is set to become the ‘Gateway of North East’ to elevate the regional economy. 
India and Bangladesh are soon going to begin operations for transit and transhipment of cargo between Northeastern India and Bangladesh with Chittagong port as the main access point. The governments of India and Bangladesh will collaborate to revamp the Ashuganj port located on the river Meghna — which is approximately 50 km away from Agartala, the capital city of Tripura. 
Will BBIN knit India’s northeast with a South Asian railway network? 
The Kokrajhar-Gelephu track would be the first railway connection between India and Bhutan.
The Indian railways recently completed the survey for the feasibility of a railway line connecting Kokrajhar in Assam, India, to Gelephu in Bhutan. The development and resuscitation of cross-border railway networks is expected to transform connectivity in the BBIN region.  The renewed interest in railways can further, also be attributed to the fact that railways are the most climate-efficient option for the movement of goods and people over long distances. It would lead to reduced carbon emissions for the BBIN countries and therefore the entire sub-region.
Arunachal Pradesh: 1,748 km-long Frontier Highway to Connect Border Areas Approved
Arunachal’s regions bordering China, Myanmar, and Bhutan will be connected by the proposed highway, enhancing connectivity and making the region more accessible.
In a major boost to connectivity in the frontier state, the Arunachal Pradesh government has given approval for the construction of a huge 1,748-km-long Frontier Highway, which will link the state’s West Kameng district to the Changlang district, situated in the eastern part of the state. Arunachal’s regions bordering China, Myanmar, and Bhutan will be connected by the proposed highway, enhancing connectivity and making the region more accessible.
Five India-Bangladesh border infra upgrade projects get BSF-BGB nod
The two border guarding forces mutually accepted to ‘pursue and share real-time information and interrogation reports of traffickers (if any) and assured to remain extra vigilant to curb them in order to make the India-Bangladesh border crime free’.

India and Bangladesh agreed for border infrastructure upgrade by giving nod to five developmental projects that would enhance ease of living for people along both the sides of fence. Among the projects include: Construction of a bailey bridge over river Sonai in Mohanpurin Indian side, completion of Ramgarh School building in Bangladesh, and construction of brick road near Ragna Nagar Land Customs Station .
Trade experts suggest ending duty-free market access to India 
Removing duty-free market access to India in primary agricultural products will enable Nepal to impose a duty on the imported agricultural goods from India, which are heavily subsidised.
Experts have pointed out the need to exclude primary agriculture products from being reciprocated under the duty-free market access when Nepal and India renew their Trade Treaty in October. The revised treaty should address some procedural irritants on the exports of some products such as pharmaceutical products, vegetables, and medicinal and aromatic plants and remove tariff rate quota on vegetable fats, acrylic yarn, copper and zinc oxide.
Nepal plans to build Manaskhand Circuit to attract Indian tourists 
Nepal Foreign Minister NP Saud has announced plans to build the Manaskhand Circuit which will connect India’s Uttarakhand with Nepal’s Far Western Provinces, EPardafas reported.

The need for a concrete bridge to connect Parshuram in Dadeldhura and Purnagiri in India to promote religious and tourism activities in the region. Minister stated that he has requested a proposal to be prepared on how to connect religious places in both countries and plans to present it to India during the upcoming visit of the Prime Minister.
Nepal, India strike cross-border infrastructure deals 
During a high-level meeting, the South Asian neighbors increased cooperation on connectivity and energy infrastructure, opening the door to new markets for Nepal's energy producers and improving bilateral ties.
Nepal and India are working to increase cross-border connectivity and energy cooperation, sealing a number of deals, including a long-term energy cooperation plan that paves the way for Nepal to export up to 10,000 megawatts of electricity to India within a decade. Other cross-border projects include a new railway and two bridges, a transmission line and expanding cross-border oil pipelines.
Nepal, World Bank launch $275 million project to boost trade connectivity 
Under the project, the 69-kilometre two-lane section of the Butwal-Gorusinghe-Chanauta road along the East-West Highway will be upgraded to a climate-resilient four-lane highway.
The government of Nepal and the World Bank jointly launched the $275 million (Rs34.96 billion) project to accelerate Nepal’s regional transport and trade connectivity. Enhanced trade and transport connectivity promotes economic integration and opens larger markets among South Asian countries. The project will help improve regional trade and promote sustainable infrastructure development to support Nepal’s green, resilient, and inclusive development.
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