Tripura hosting a two-day conference started from Monday to discuss connectivity challenges and opportunities between the North East region and Bangladesh and the role the Japanese government could play in making the Bay of Bengal accessible for trade and commerce to flourish the area.
The conclave titled “Third India Japan Intellectual Conclave” on “North East India, Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal in the Indo-Pacific Building Partnership.
A recently conducted study suggested that both Northeast India and Bangladesh need to scale up their multi-modal connectivity, which would not only help the region to raise its competitiveness but also narrow the development gaps in the region.
In parallel, both entities should work together to bring synergy in trade facilitation and build express corridors for the transhipment and transit of goods from Northeast Region to Chattogram Port of Bangladesh, the study further suggested.
The study also suggested the creation of industrial value chains to create a win-win situation for all stakeholders in India and Bangladesh and Japanese companies in the region. It was also suggested to establish Japan-Northeast India Chamber of Commerce to promote Japanese investment in NE India, and a NE India-Bangladesh-Japan CEO Forum so that it can provide the required business leadership.
The Northeast-Bangladesh economic corridor may add a significant geo-economic component to the regional geopolitics. The involvement of Japan in creating an industrial value-chain between Northeast India and Bangladesh and connecting the northeastern region (NER) to the Bay of Bengal, may well lead to significant results on the regional geopolitical front vis-à-vis China.
Depending on the level of participation by the three countries, there is potential that the initiative may create a thriving and sustainable NER-Bangladesh economic corridor (let’s call it, NBEC), triggering mutual interest to attract private investments by harnessing natural advantages.
“Viewing Bangladesh and other areas to the south as a single economic zone, we will promote the Bay of Bengal-Northeast India industrial value chain concept in cooperation with India and Bangladesh to foster the growth of the entire region,” Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said during his recent visit to Delhi.
The proposal is part of the ongoing collaboration between India and Japan to build a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP),’ and is an extension of the discussion that took place at the Japan-India Summit in 2022.
“The Prime Ministers reaffirmed the significance of collaborative projects … in the Indo-Pacific region. They acknowledged the progress in ongoing projects in Bangladesh… They appreciated the importance of their continued collaboration through the Act East Forum (AEF) for the sustainable economic development of India’s North Eastern Region and for enhancing the Region’s connectivity with Southeast Asia,” the 2022 the joint statement said.