Change of the mindset is the prerequisite for improving the bilateral trade relations between neighbouring India and Bangladesh.
Reactivating of the Bangladesh-India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BICCI) is also necessary for narrowing the trade gap and bringing the business communities of the two countries closer.
These were the crux of the observations made by both Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh Veena Sikri and Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) President Mir Nasir Hossain at a meeting held Thursday in the city. The FBCCI organised the meeting.
The FBCCI president moderated it while high officials from the Indian High Commission, leaders of the FBCCI and representatives from different organisations took part in it.
Veena Sikri said that the visa process would be easier soon and a visa station at Petrapole would be set up as part of its ongoing process of easing the visa procedures.
She also said that both the countries needed to work closely on harmonisation of standards and customs regulations as well as conclusion of an agreement on recognising each other's standards and trade marks.
Pointing out the poor infrastructures, she said both the countries will not be able to reap benefits of SAFTA, BIMSTEC FTA, if road, rail and waterways linking the two countries are not revitalised.
Referring to the container movement, she said transferring containers at border points from one truck to another is more sufficient than the existing process.
She said that the Indian government would undertake adequate steps for improving infrastructural facilities of its land customs stations.
Referring to importance of a rail route, she said that India had offered credit line and grants to Bangladesh with a view to upgrading and modernising its railway networks.
"We've offered to build linkage such as the Akhura-Agartola rail link. In addition to that we have also proposed passenger and containerised movements between Sealdah and Joydevpur", she added.
She said that India wanted Inland Water Trade and Transit Protocol (IWTP) to be expanded at least for five years.
She also said that Ashuganj should be declared a port-of-call with multimodal facilities so that goods could be brought to this point and off-loaded.
The FBCCI president in his speech said land port facilities at both sides are inadequate to handle the import volume of about US$ 2.0 billion and are incurring losses up to 10 per cent.
Expressing his concern over speedy growth of unofficial trades, he said that both the countries should undertake corrective measures to restrict unofficial cross-border trades.
Stressing the need for diversifying Bangladeshi products, he said there are prospects of increasing export of products like ceramic, melamine, table and kitchen ware, medicines, medicinal herbs, batteries, PVC pipes, Jamdani and other goods to India to narrow the trade gaps.
FBCCI first vice president Mohammed Ali, vice president Dewan Sultan Ahmed, chief advisor to the FBCCI Syed Alamgir Chowdhury Faruk, Monjur Ahmed, Aftabul Islam, Abdul Motlub Ahmed and other directors also spoke, among others.