Home/ Politics / News/  Japan to help new NE connectivity project

NEW DELHI : Japan is set to hold a conclave with noted experts and officials in April this year in an effort to flesh out the ‘Bay of Bengal-Northeast Industrial Value Chain’, an ambitious new connectivity project. The project was announced by Japanese PM Fumio Kishida during his two-day visit to India.

“Northeast India, which is surrounded by land, still has unexploited economic potential. Viewing Bangladesh and other areas of the South as a single economic zone, we will promote the Bay of Bengal-North East India industrial value chain concept in cooperation with India and Bangladesh in order to foster growth in the entire region," said Kishida, while delivering the Sapru House Lecture here in New Delhi on Monday.

According to persons aware of the matter, the conclave is set to take place in Tripura. The goal is to bring sectoral experts, industry and officials together to discuss how the project will take shape. According to them, Japan plans for a new industrial and manufacturing zone that includes Bangladesh and India’s North East. Japan is looking to attract regional investment moving out of pricier South East Asian markets like Thailand to the Bay of Bengal region.

In order to do this, a two-pronged strategy is in the works. First, regional connectivity and infrastructure development efforts will increasingly be coordinated and linked. Japan, which is funding road development in India’s Northeast, is also a major infrastructure investor in Bangladesh. For example, Tokyo helped build Bangladesh’s Matabari port, which both nations hope will allow easier seaborne exports to regional and global markets. Mint had earlier reported that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which funded the construction of Matabari, hopes to help Indian companies establish a firmer foothold in the Bay of Bengal region. By coordinating on infrastructure development and linking connectivity efforts, the three countries will be able to provide an infrastructural base necessary to attract private investment to Bangladesh and the Northeast.

Second, it is proposed that the three capitals work together to reduce policy barriers to investments. Bangladesh is in the process of exploring trade agreements with India and Japan to boost economic activity.

The project is also strategically relevant, given China’s economic heft in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific generally. By bringing Japanese investment to India and Bangladesh and exporting to markets in the Bay of Bengal region, the plan is to bind regional economies closer to New Delhi, Dhaka and Tokyo.

Given that the project is still in its infancy, Japanese officials were not able to give specific details about a proposed program of action for the new initiative during a press briefing in New Delhi.

The April conclave in Tripura will thus be a first step to solicit suggestions from experts and industry and push for a concrete program of action for the Bay of Bengal-Northeast Industrial Value Chain.

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Updated: 21 Mar 2023, 11:55 PM IST
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