Bangladesh is looking to open more trade channels with India, widen footprint of border haats and open up routes that were closed during the 1965 war, visiting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said today. Observing that nothing is solved by confrontation but friendship is the solution to all problems, she said the two nations have been able to establish “profound mutual trust and exemplary friendship” over the years.
India and Bangladesh have been unable to finalize the long-pending Teesta water-sharing agreement, primarily due to opposition by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Hasina, who is on a four-day visit to India, urged Indian industry houses to invest in Bangladesh, especially in infrastructure projects, power and energy, transport, manufacturing, food and agricultural processing sectors.
She said the Indian business community can take full advantage of Bangladesh’s steady economic growth, high demographic dividend, low business cost and large consumer base, noting that “to facilitate further investments, a ‘One Stop Service Act’ is currently being finalised”.
Hasina also witnessed the signing of pacts worth over USD 9 billion by companies from India and Bangladesh aimed at deepening partnership in sectors like power and oil and gas.
Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who was also present on the occasion, invoked the shared cultural history of India and Bangladesh, and pointed towards his close proximity to Dhaka since he belongs to Odisha.
In many ways, this is an exceptional relationship, he said, adding, “Since we share 54 rivers, it is said that a river cuts through a rock, not because of its power but because of its persistence. We have enough goodwill between the nations to persist in nourishing and grooming this relationship for the collective welfare of millions of our people”.
“Being one of the key pillars of our growing economic engagement, we are extremely happy to partner with Bangladesh in meeting its growing demand for petroleum products,” Pradhan said, noting that the two nations are entering a new level of collaboration in hydrocarbon sector.
He said a gas pipeline between the two neighbors will cater to the power plants of Bangladesh and also integrate the Bangladesh natural gas grid, creating synergy for both sides. He said exploration activities are being carried out by ONGC Videsh and “we are at an advanced stage of exploration which would hopefully produce results benefit both nations”.