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Business News/ News / World/  Political boundaries should not become physical barriers for trade: Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina

Political boundaries should not become physical barriers for trade: Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina

Noting that there was immense trade potential between India’s northeastern region and Bangladesh besides with Bhutan and Nepal, Hasina said, 'Political boundaries should not become physical barriers for trade'

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaks during the inauguration of 1.9 KM long bridge 'Maitri Setu' has been built over Feni River Between India- Bangladesh via Video conferencing, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)

New Delhi: Bangladesh was ready to maximize its locational advantage as a connectivity hub between South Asia and South East Asia, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Tuesday as she joined her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at an online event to inaugurate a bridge built over the Feni river.

In her short speech on the occasion Hasina also said that political boundaries in the region should not become physical barriers for trade.

"Undoubtedly, this is a historic moment. We are creating a new era of connectivity in South Asia," Hasina said in her remarks just before Modi remotely inaugurated the “Maitri Setu." The bridge has been constructed by the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd at a project cost of 133 crore across the Feni river that flows between Indian boundary in Tripura and Bangladesh.

The 1.9 km bridge connects Sabroom in India with Ramgarh in Bangladesh. With the opening of the bridge, the distance between Sabroom in Tripura and Chittagong port of Bangladesh has been reduced to 75km - 80 km.

Noting that there was immense trade potential between India’s northeastern region and Bangladesh besides with Bhutan and Nepal, Hasina said: “Political boundaries should not become physical barriers for trade."

“It (the bridge) will also help Bangladesh's trade with Nepal and Bhutan," she added.

In his remarks, prime minister Modi said the bridge will further strengthen connectivity between the two countries and boost economic activities. Agartala, the capital of Tripura, will become the closest city in India to an international sea port, Modi said. The opening of the bridge would also transform Sabroom to an international trade centre, he said noting that an Integrated Check Post would be coming up in the area that would be a full fledged logistics hub with container and transshipment facilities.

Another advantage of infrastructure like the bridge being constructed was that India was not only connected to its northeast by road but also by sea and rivers, Modi said.

Ties between India and Bangladesh have transformed radically after India ratified a land boundary pact in 2015 that had been left undone for decades. Till some years ago, Dhaka was seen as cool to Indian requests to allow cargo and passenger traffic through its territory to the northeast. With the Sheikh Hasina government taking office in December 2008, ties between the two countries started to warm up and the ratification of the land boundary pact was seen as the catalyst for the vastly improved ties.

The inauguration of the bridge comes weeks before Modi is to travel to Bangladesh to participate in a series of events including the birth centenary celebrations of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, five decades of the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent country and 50 years of diplomatic relations between India and Bangladesh. Two Indian naval ships, the INS Kulish and INS Sumedha, were visiting Bangladesh’s Mongla port for three days, starting Monday, to mark the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent country.

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