Quarterly Newsletter
Issue #9, January-March, 2022


Towards seamless border connectivity in South Asia | 09.03.2022
Multilateral trade facilitation initiatives over the past decade have triggered border development in South Asia. These trade facilitation measures have the potential to minimise the physical interactions at the border-crossing processes and expedite standard formalities.

Gati Shakti to leverage data mining for infrastructure development | 02.02.2022
Access to data is often hindered by no-real time information, a variety of resources for the same data, and the high price of data collected by private stakeholders. All these challenges are expected to change with the anvil of the Prime Minister’s Gati Shakti National Master Plan for Multi-modal Connectivity.

Transforming Uttar Pradesh: An Upcoming Multi-modal Connectivity Hub | 21.01.22
Uttar Pradesh is ideally placed in the Indian sub-continent to act as a multi-modal connectivity hub. The sheer number of infrastructure as well as other connectivity initiatives in this state, along with necessary measures for industrialisation and logistics, makes it an attractive destination for investments.

PM Gati Shakti to unlock trade potential of Northeast India | 17.01.22
Large-scale absence of coordination and collaboration among agencies has been a major challenge to time bound infrastructure project implementation in India. All this could change now through Gati Shakti National Master Plan for Multi-Modal Connectivity. 
Opportunities for India-Bangladesh ties at state level 
A joint outreach to Bangladesh by all Northeast Indian states could result in improved goods transit via inland river systems. 
The government of India should encourage and assist the North-eastern states to take advantage of their proximity to Bangladesh in order to change itself from a landlocked to a land-linked region. The Northeast needs to establish a plan for these states’ ‘paradiplomacy’ efforts and engage regularly with Bangladeshi authorities and the MEA.
Agartala to get direct air connectivity with Dhaka, Chittagong
Agartala will get direct flights connecting with Dhaka and Chittagong in neighbouring Bangladesh, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb announced.
Airlines are expected to start services along the Agartala-Chittagong and Agartala-Dhaka international routes in the next six months. The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has included the proposed international routes under the UDAN scheme and will float tenders inviting expressions of interest from private airlines to operate the routes.
The case for upgrading India-Bangladesh ICPs
India-Bangladesh Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) are vital for bilateral trade and need digitisation, better cargo-handling infrastructure.
The ICPs on the India–Bangladesh border show India's desire to provide world-class amenities at the border checkpoints to boost trade and connectivity with its neighbour. Effective ICPs will be critical for India's trade and connection with Bangladesh in the future.
India seeks FTA with Bangladesh, says Goyal
Goyal listed four focus areas for strengthening bilateral relationship including uninterrupted supply chain, joint production of defense equipment, and pharmaceuticals.

Addressing the inaugural session of the India-Bangladesh Stakeholders meet, Goyal listed four focus areas for strengthening bilateral relationship including uninterrupted supply chain, joint production of defense equipment, and pharmaceuticals. He also pressed for the need to explore potential areas of investments, like Textiles, Leather & Footwear, APIs for Pharmaceuticals, Renewable Energy, etc.
Bangladesh confirms Bandwidth to Bhutan for the third Internet Gateway
Bangladesh and Bhutan are going to enter into a new era of cooperation in the information and communication sector.
The decision of providing the internet bandwidth and connectivity through Bangladesh territory at a very special rate is an outcome of the Prime Ministerial meeting between Bangladesh and Bhutan in 2021. The deal offered by Bangladesh will come into effect once an MOU is signed between competent authorities in Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Lockdown on Bhutan border hampers trade
According to sources, over the past few days, a number of Covid cases were reported in Bhutan’s border towns, along with some other locations in the country
The surge in community Covid-19 cases in and around Phuentsholing prompted the Bhutan government to announce lockdown in the town, and in the neighbouring Pasakha from January 2022. As a result, bilateral trade on the Indo-Bhutan border has been affected because the Bhutan government has restricted imports and exports of the country during this period. 
Export of agricultural goods to India could see improvement 
Export of goods from Bhutan to India could be smoothed with the Economic Affairs minister discussing issues related to trade and commerce with top Indian leaders during a recent visit to India.
The issues related to export of agriculture products and hydropower projects were discussed during the ministerial meeting between India and Bhutan. Exporters of agriculture produce and farmers from Bhutan explained that there are a lot of ad hoc regulations which hinder export of perishable goods. 
Assam Gov, Bhutan consul general discuss tourism, trade, student exchange
Bhutan’s consul general said that his country was eager to strengthen tourism ties with the North-eastern Indian state.

Bhutan’s Consul General and Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi discussed tourism, trade and student exchange between India and the Himalayan kingdom. The governor and the envoy expressed keenness to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries. Bhutan is also keen on increasing trade in fresh fruits with India.
Six rail links with Bangladesh, two with Nepal; India to enhance cooperation in connectivity and energy sectors with neighbors
India’s prosperity and growth are linked to that of its neighbors. 'We cannot develop unless our neighbors develop', Shringla stated.
India will soon be connected through six rail links with Bangladesh and two rail links with Nepal. In the last few years, government has increasingly pushed for the development of infrastructure in its neighborhood. Connectivity with and within parts of India's neighborhood by road, by water, by rail, and by air, and now by multimodal transport, has steadily improved.
Railways planning to work on Mahisashan transit point in Karimganj
The obsolete railway transit point of Mahisashan located in Karimganj, Assam will be revived by the railway department by December, 2022.
Anshul Gupta, General Manager of North East Frontier Railway (NF Railway) asserted that railway connectivity will be expanded to Bangladesh and efforts are on to start the connectivity to Mahisasan zero point by the end of this year. The Mahisasan Railway station will help in development of the North-eastern region and strengthens India's bilateral trade and transit connectivity with Bangladesh. 
PM Modi decides to open another route connecting Tripura and Bangladesh's Comilla, says MoS Pratima Bhoumik
Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Pratima Bhoumik, said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to open another route connecting Tripura and Bangladesh's Comilla. 
Tripura is an ideal place to connect India and Bangladesh. With that motive in mind, the Indian government has sanctioned a new highway connecting Tripura's Gomati district headquarters Udaipur with Comilla through Sonamura sub-division, a significant trade point located under Sepahijala district. The new highway shall also connect Udaipur with Bangladesh directly.
Sustainable transport needs augmentation to ‘New Transit Cities’ model 
Initiatives of ‘sustainable transport’ in the recent budget may need further enhancement to ‘new transit cities’ model in the coming years.

PM GatiShakti is a transformative approach for economic growth and sustainable development. Promoting a shift to use of public transport in urban areas complemented by clean tech and governance solutions, special mobility zones with zero fossil-fuel policy, and EV vehicles are right steps towards new transit cities.
Nepal, India, Bangladesh ‘agree’ to open transport routes in six months
Nepal, India and Bangladesh have agreed to open at least one or two transport routes for passenger vehicles under the banner of BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal), a sub-regional initiative, in the next six months.
A meeting of three countries on the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) in March 2022 in New Delhi decided to go ahead with the plan to operate the Kakarvitta- Kolkata-Dhaka or Biratnagar-Kolkata routes in the next six months. The meeting was held to discuss the Passenger and Cargo Protocols for the regulation of passenger, personal and cargo vehicular traffic. 
Nepal okays $500 million US aid to motive country’s infrastructure, adds caveat
New clause ‘interpretative declaration’ clarifies that the US grant is a development grant.
Nepal’s Parliament Sunday ratified a contentious $500 million US government aid grant, after weeks of back and forth among the ruling coalition. The grant, known as the Millennium Challenge Corporation Nepal Compact (MCC-Nepal), was signed by Washington and Kathmandu in 2017 and aimed to upgrade the country’s infrastructure. 
India, Nepal sign MoU on construction of motorable bridge over Mahakali river
India and Nepal on Tuesday signed a Mo) for the construction of a motorable bridge over the Mahakali River connecting Dharchula (India) with Darchula (Nepal).
The project will enhance cross-border connectivity between the Sudurpaschim, Nepal and Uttarakhand, India across the Mahakali River where close people-to-people links exist between communities on both sides of the border. This is in line with the priority shared by both the governments to expand cross-border connectivity for streamlining commercial, cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
Nepal’s customs offices go ‘cashless’ and ‘paperless’ from today 
The government has implemented a one-window system at all the customs offices across the country. 
The Department of Customs (DoC) has installed the computerized customs management system known as ASYCUDA (Automated System for Customs Data) World at all the main border crossings of the country. ASYCUDA World is a web-based customs management system that supports paperless cargo submission and processing. 
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