Bangladesh seeks trade access to Himalayan nations via India

DHAKA: Bangladesh has urged India to give it transit to Nepal and Bhutan to boost bilateral and South Asian regional trade and connectivity.

The subject will be high on the agenda when Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visits New Delhi shortly. India too is expected to raise its pitch for better

connectivity to its northeastern region through Bangladesh.

The opinion in Bangladesh is divided on the twin issue that involves a quid pro quo. Some sections see Indian access a security threat while others want Dhaka to drive what they call a hard bargain with New Delhi since its access to the northeastern region deprives Bangladesh of a potential market. Hasina yesterday said Bangladesh ‘always’ requests India to give it transit facilities to Nepal and Bhutan.

“If such transit facilities are given, neighbouring countries can use Mongla Port, which will expedite regional development,” United News of Bangladesh (UNB) news agency quoted her as telling newly appointed ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh Tamotsu Shinotsuka.

Bangladesh is dependent upon its river ports and besides Mongla, it plans to build another sea port at Sonadia in the Bay of Bengal. She told the Japanese envoy that the present government has planned to modernise the Mongla seaport and Japan can help Bangladesh in this regard, The Daily Star reported today.