KOLKATA: After a subdued show for two consecutive years, India’s exports to Bangladesh reported a robust growth in 2016-17. The growth is attributed to a significant rise in export of equipment and high-value machinery for project implementation in Bangladesh.
According to the Commerce Ministry, exports to Bangladesh touched $6.8 billion in the fiscal year ending March 2017, recording 13 per cent growth. Total bilateral trade had hit an all-time high of $7.5 billion, up 11 per cent.
Bangladesh is the ninth largest importer of Indian goods. According to the Ministry, Indian exports increased by a modest 4.6 per cent ($6.4 billion) in 2014-15 and dropped by 6.4 per cent ($6.03 billion) in 2015-16.
Indian observers believe conversion of road traffic to less costly rail, containerisation of cargo and multi-modal transport can reduce the trade logistics costs. India recently approved Rs. 40 crore, in the third line of credit worth $4.5 billion to Dhaka, to help Bangladesh build a transhipment facility at Ishwardi that connects Gede-Darshana rail-link. It will help increase rail cargo by road. A parallel effort is on by both the countries to run container trains between Kolkata and Dhaka.
But the most promising news is from shipping sector. Though India and Bangladesh opened direct shipping last year; the cargo volume didn’t grow to the expected levels due to congestion at Chittagong Port in Bangladesh.
In a recent trend, Bangladeshi shipping lines started moving containerised cargo from Kolkata to the inland river port at Pangaon, barely 20 km from Dhaka. The Port is equipped with container handling facility. Indian authorities are bullish that popularising this route can reduce trade costs significantly.