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The Indian government is planning to develop an eastern grid with 5,000 kilometres of navigable waterways connecting two neighbouring countries – Bangladesh and Myanmar – for better port and waterways connectivity, said Assamese Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal, reported The Economic Times.

"Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government is working extensively to develop the eastern grid with more than 5,000kms of navigable waterways," Sonowal said.

He added, "The development of this grid will not only boost regional integration and accelerate development but will further deepen eastern India's trade among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal, known as BBIN countries."

India is also engaging with Bangladesh for dredging activities across connecting waterways while linking its inland waterways network with the neighbourhood's ports, Sonowal expressed.

It would also further amplify India's presence in the southeastern countries, according to him.

Commodore Arif Ahmed Mostafa, chairman of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), told TBS, "This is India's plan but we have some joint plans to improve regional water transport facilities."

The BIWTA is implementing the "Bangladesh Regional Inland Water Transport Project" worth Tk3349.42 crore to maintain the navigation of the Chattogram-Dhaka-Ashuganj river corridor, he added.

He further said that Bangladesh is investing in developing a river corridor considering its interests. India will dredge some rivers which will not be of use to Bangladesh but useful for regional communication. India also expressed interest to invest in dredging more rivers like these. All these issues are being discussed at the secretary and ministerial level.

Assamese Union Minister Sonowal said, "With the seamless connection between NW-1 (Ganga), NW-2 (Brahmaputra) and NW-16 (Barak), the government is keen to create opportunity via an economic corridor of 3,500kms connecting Northeast India with the rest of India, via Bangladesh.

The eastern grid can unlock multi-lateral trade potential of $49 billion as India remains committed to accelerate growth in eastern India."


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Bangladesh and India began settling cross-border trades in the Indian rupee (INR) last week, a development that has been hailed as a landmark for the growing bilateral commerce in general and for Bangladesh in particular.

Initially, the scope of making import payments would be limited to the equivalent of Bangladesh's export earnings of around $2 billion from India.

This means it might not immediately give a boost to Bangladesh's foreign currency reserve, whose level fell by about 30 per cent in the past one year owing to higher import bills against lower-than-expected export and remittance earnings.

As per new arrangements, Bangladeshi exporters will receive their proceeds in the rupee in the nostro accounts opened with ICICI Bank and State Bank of India (SBI). The proceeds will be used to facilitate Bangladesh's import transactions with India.

Trade analysts describe the move as a welcome step, saying it would deepen trade ties between the two neighbours, reduce dependency on the US dollar, and cut the cost of business.

"Bangladesh has found a new currency to settle international trades and this will bring benefit in the future," said Ahsan H Mansur, a noted economist.

Before the addition of the rupee to the list of currencies used to carry out cross-border trades, Bangladesh settled trades in the US dollar, the pound sterling, and the euro, with the American greenback dominating.

Mansur said the addition of the rupee will bring no major benefits immediately, especially when it comes to alleviating the pressure on the reserve.

"This is because Bangladesh will receive rupees instead of US dollars against export proceeds since India will make payments in their currency to settle imports as well."

The trading arrangement will be beneficial for the businesses that import from India and export to the country. Besides, trade costs will be lower for them, said Mansur.

Mansur, also the executive director of the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh, a private think-tank, however, says local businesses may attract more customers which will raise Bangladesh's exports to India.

Bangladesh's scope to open letters of credit has been squeezed to some extent owing to the fall in the forex reserve.

The settlement of LCs in the rupee may solve the problem to some extent, Mansur said.

The growing trade in the rupee will help India make its currency a reserve currency, he added.

The US dollar, the euro, the Chinese renminbi, the Japanese yen, and the British pound sterling are the reserve currencies.

Prof Mustafizur Rahman, a trade analyst, also said that trading in the INR would not bring much impact on the reserve level as a certain volume of US dollars will neither be added to the reserve nor leave it.

He said some global brands that have a presence in India may continue to purchase goods from Bangladesh in the USD.

Rahman, also a distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue, said the risk facing the taka will still be there since the INR may fluctuate.

He suggested attracting more lines of credit and more foreign direct investments in the rupee from the neighbouring country.

"Then it will benefit our economy."

Atiur Rahman, a former governor of the Bangladesh Bank, said the beginning of trade in the rupee is a very first but very important step for bilateral trade.

"If Bangladesh can increase its exports to India, the benefits of the mechanism will expand. So, Bangladesh needs to find out new avenues to export more to the neighbouring country."

If India offers a new line of credit in the rupee and the loan is used in settling LCs regarding fuels, it can lessen the pressure on the forex reserves to some extent, he said.

The former governor suggested using UPAS (Usance Payable at Sight) LC to import products from India. "This will reduce costs and popularise the system."

The BB rolled out UPAS LC, an import system carried out on the basis of buyers' credit, in 2012.

"We are not going to replace the US dollar. Instead, we are supplementing it," said Amit Kumar, country head of SBI.

He said the benefits of trade in the INR are the reduction of net demand for the US dollar, the lowering of costs stemming from currency conversions, and cutting the processing time needed to carry out trades.

Kumar said a market-based exchange rate is beneficial for Bangladesh.

"The taka has depreciated steeply against the US dollar in the last one year. The rupee has not witnessed such a fall. So, settling of trades is good for Bangladesh."

The taka has depreciated by around 10 per cent against the INR in the past one year while it weakened by around 25 per cent against the USD.

According to the SBI official, trading in the INR would be cost-efficient since hedging will not be involved. On the other hand, trades in the US dollar involve costs related to currency hedging, he said.

The move comes as India pushes to make the rupee a global currency. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has already put in place a mechanism to settle international trade in the currency.

The central bank of India has allowed banks from 18 countries to make payments in the rupee. The countries include Sri Lanka, Israel, Russia, Germany, Singapore and the UK. Now, Bangladesh has been included in the list.

"India wants to make the rupee a tradable currency. So, the launch of trade settlements with Bangladesh in the rupee is a good initiative from their perspective," said Mamun Rashid, a trade analyst.

He said the initiative is good but its effectiveness will depend on the private sector since exporters will decide whether they will accept their earnings in the rupee instead of the US dollar.

"In our previous experience with China, we saw the Chinese private sector prefer the US dollar instead of the renminbi. So, it is important to see how the private sector in India reacts."

He said the rupee and the taka have not fluctuated against the US dollar at the same pace, so a higher depreciation of the Bangladeshi currency may work in its favour.

However, the rupee can also fluctuate, he said.

The losses stemming from the currency conversion for Bangladeshi traders might still be there despite using the rupee.

This is because if an Indian buyer enters into a deal with a seller from Bangladesh, the former will have to convert the rupees into the USD first. The Bangladeshi seller will get payments in the American currency and will convert them into the taka to use them.

Now, Indian importers will not face such a conversion since the rupee will be used during the transaction, while it remains the same for Bangladeshi companies. For them, only the currency changes.

Bangladesh's annual imports from India stand at around $20 billion. So, the demand for the US dollar will be there among importers.

Md Fazlul Hoque, a former president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association, says he is not sure how the mechanism will reduce the pressure on the forex reserve.

He said most of the exporters except those in the agro-based sector are dependent on global markets for raw materials. And they will continue to need US dollars to purchase raw materials from other countries.

The central bank will have to be careful so that this group of exporters can't receive payments in the INR against their shipments to India since the reserve will fall if such happens, he said.

 

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Bangladesh Railway Authority has signed an agreement with an Indian contractor company KEC International Limited for the installation of signal and telecom lines along rail tracks.

Project Director Nazneen Ara Keya on behalf of Bangladesh Railway and Subrajit Jana on behalf of KEC International Limited signed the agreement at a ceremony held at the Railway Bhaban in the capital on Sunday.

New Computer Based Interlocking (CBI) signalling system will be installed in seven stations –

Dhaka, Tejgaon, Dhaka Cantonment, Dhaka Airport, Tongi, Dhirashram and Joydebpur—under the Tk349.45 crore project, which is part of another big project of the Railway.

Besides, this project will introduce three new Tk48 crore optical fibre cables. Also, coordination will be done with the Centralised Control Centre of Dhaka station and the CBI system of Gendaria, Pubail, Gazipur and Mouchak stations. A further signalling warning system will be installed at the existing 37 level crossing gates which are manned.

This project will reduce accidents, especially rail derailments. Access control and security will be ensured by the construction of a railway boundary wall. Above all, this project will be helpful in the socio-economic development of the country.

The contract validity period is 30 months and the defect liability period is 12 months. After the defect liability period, there is a further 24 months repair period.

The project of constructing the third and fourth dual-gauge railway lines on the Dhaka-Tongi route and a second dual-gauge line on the Tongi-Joydebpur route was approved in 2012.

There are two parts to this project, one is the construction of railway lines and the other part is the installation of signal and telecom lines.

The railway line construction work began in 2017. But the contract for laying signalling and telecom lines was signed yesterday, more than a decade after the main project was approved.

Regarding the delay, Project Director Nazneen Ara Keya said the cost of setting up the signalling system will be higher than what was estimated in the project proposal. So, the project had to be revised.

The total cost of the entire project is estimated at Tk3,342 crore, of which, the government will provide Tk521.39 crore and the Indian loan is Tk2,821.16 crore.

 

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Trade between Bangladesh and India in rupee formally began with the arrival of 30 pickup vans worth Rs1.23 crore in Benapole port.

The first Rupee trade shipment from West Bengal's Petrapole border to Bangladesh took place on Tuesday (25 July).

"It was a shipment of vehicle chassis from Tata Motors, and the value of the shipment is Rs1.23 crore," Kamlesh Saini, the manager of the Land Ports Authority of India (ICP Petrapole), said in an interview with PTI.

He said this shipment is in Indian Rupees and will further boost exports.

Benapole Port Deputy Director (Traffic) Abdul Jalil said the convoy itself was the imported item: thirty pick-up vans were imported by the Nita Company of Dhaka, a trading company of Bangladesh, from Indian exporter Tata Motors Ltd, also the manufacturer of the vehicles, reports UNB.

Petrapole, located in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas, is the major land port of India for bilateral trade with Bangladesh. It connects with the Benapole land port of Bangladesh.

On 11 July, Bangladesh and India launched the historic cross-border trade settlement mechanism to import and export using the Indian rupee as currency.

The agreement allows for invoices, payments and settlements in rupees for Bangladesh's $20 billion exports and imports to and from India.

 

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Bangladesh has welcomed the recent recommendation made by India's Parliamentary Standing Committee regarding Teesta water sharing agreement describing it as "encouraging and significant".

"It is surely encouraging and meaningful; specially MPs from all political parties of India are in this committee. That is why such a recommendation generated hope among us," spokesperson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Seheli Sabrin told reporters at the weekly media briefing on Thursday.

She said they noticed through the Bangladesh Mission in New Delhi that the committee recommended reaching consensus on Teesta water sharing through meaningful dialogue to strengthen the relations between the two countries.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs in India unanimously has recently recommended to the government to resolve the pending Teesta water sharing issue at the earliest 'to improve the bilateral relation further' with Bangladesh.

Recalling earlier discussions, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reiterated Bangladesh's long pending request for concluding the interim agreement on the sharing of the waters of the Teesta River, the draft of which was finalised in 2011.

In September last year, PM Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi also directed the officials to work together to address issues such as pollution in rivers and to improve riverine environment and river navigability in respect of common rivers.

When Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pranay Verma met PM Hasina at Gonobhaban recently, the prime minister said that she was looking forward to attending the G20 Summit in India in September, according to the Indian High Commission in Dhaka.

The standing committee composed of all parties' lawmakers submitted the report on 'India's Neighborhood First Policy' in both the houses of the Parliament –Rajyasabha, upper house and Loksabha, lower house, on July 25.

P.P. Chaudhary, chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs is from BJP.

Important members of the parliament like former Home Minister of Congress P Chidambaram, Abhishek Banerjee of TMC, BJP MP Swapan Dasgutpa and other 27 members of Parliament of Rajyasabha and Loksabha are the members of the committee, media reported.

The report contains a special chapter on the bilateral relations between India and Bangladesh.

"The Committee is aware of the long outstanding issue between India and Bangladesh on sharing of Teesta River water and desires that this important issue be worked out at the earliest for improved bilateral relations with Bangladesh.

"The Committee also urges the Ministry to initiate meaningful dialogues with Bangladesh on a regular basis to arrive at a consensus in the matter and the progress and outcome may be informed to the committee on the issue of pending disputes between India and Bangladesh and the fresh initiatives and meaningful dialogues proposed to be taken to resolve such disputes," according to the media.

 

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The Bangladeshi government has declared four transhipment routes for Indian traders in Tripura and other northeastern states, Press Trust of India (PTI) reports quoting a Tripura minister.

The four protocol routes are Chattogram Port-Akhaura-Agartala, Mongla Port-Akhaura-Agartala, Chattogram-Bibirbazar-Srimantapur and Mongla Port-Bibirbazar-Srimantapur.

"India and Bangladesh have signed an agreement allowing Indian traders to use Chattogram and Mongla ports for transportation of goods. The Bangladesh government has notified the four routes for transhipment of goods by Tripura and other northeastern states," Tripura's Industries and Commerce Minister Santana Chakma said during a press conference.


Bangladesh has received the second parcel of fuel from India through the cross-border Indo-Bangla Friendship Pipeline, which was inaugurated four months ago, for fuel oil trade.

On 29 July, some 28 lakh litres of diesel fuel were supplied from Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) of Assam to Parbatipur depot in Dinajpur, said pipeline implementing authorities.

"Another two to three parcels of fuel are scheduled to be transported within this month," they added.

Currently, fuel delivery through this pipeline remains slow as the new storage tanks are yet to be completed.

As an import-dependent country for liquid fuel, Bangladesh used to receive fuel at the Chattogram Port, and transport it to the northern region via the Mongla Port and the railway. The country also used to import a portion of fuel from neighbouring India via railway wagons.

The process costs both time and money, which also keeps fuel supply in uncertainty for the consumers of the country's 16 northern districts during the irrigation period.

Bangladesh and India inaugurated their first ever cross-border energy pipeline on 18 March this year.

The 131.57km pipeline connecting Siliguri in West Bengal and Parbatipur in Dinajpur is expected to help Bangladesh to ensure uninterrupted fuel supply to its northern districts, and deliver one million tonnes of fuel annually.

During the inauguration, around 90 lakh liters of fuel were imported from India through this pipeline.

The direct cross-border pipeline will carry fuel oil to Parbatipur without any of the hassle currently experienced, Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) Chairman ABM Azad told The Business Standard.

Earlier, around 0.85 million tonnes of diesel were imported annually from India to the Parbatipur depot through railways to meet a part of the northern region's total fuel demand, and the rest was delivered through roads and railways.

 

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Kolkata-based Desun Hospital on Tuesday announced plans to open a branch in the country with Tk1,000 crore investment noting the Bangladeshi government has already agreed to provide all the necessary support in this regard.

The hospital's Managing Director Sajal Dutta made the announcement at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity in the capital on Tuesday, signalling Desun's new plan aims to bring closure to home the quality healthcare services Bangladeshi travellers seek in India.

Sajal said his team has held a meeting with Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and the government is ready to extend all kinds of support.

Desun would build a local facility in any one of the Dhaka, Chattogram, Khulna and Sylhet divisions over the next five years, if all goes according to plan. Cancer, heart, neuro and gastroliver healthcare services would be provided in the newly constructed hospital as Bangladeshis travel to India chiefly to get these medical services.

Bangladeshi doctors would serve in the facility but Desun would seek to bring in some nurses and technicians from India. Indian doctors would also pay visits occasionally to share experiences with their Bangladeshi counterparts, Sajal informed reporters on Tuesday.

Bangladeshis everyday submit at least 27 thousand applications for getting Indian visas, and the Indian government provides nine thousand visas daily. A large chunk of the visa applications is for availing world-class Indian medical services. In Kolkata, 20% of the patients are Bangladeshis, whereas in Chennai, the share of Bangladeshis is 3-4%. After a Covid-era dip, the influx of patients from Bangladesh is rebounding, Sajal noted.

In this backdrop, Desun wants to provide quality health services at fair prices to reduce hassles for Bangladeshi patients, Sajal Dutta added.

 

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Indian multinational conglomerate Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Construction's Buildings & Factories (B&F) business has received significant orders in Bangladesh and the company's home country.

In an exchange filing, L&T classifies orders in the range of Rs1,000-2,500 crore as significant, reports The Hindu.

L&T secured an order from the Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority for the construction of Hi-Tech IT Parks across four locations in the country, backed by EXIM Bank financing. The project entails essential systems such as HVAC, Lifts, Electrical, Fire Fighting, Public Health Engineering, Networking & Security, and Building Management Systems.

The project's major components comprise seven-storey structural steel buildings at each location, totalling 1.2 million sq ft.

 

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Bangladesh and India are considering the establishment of 16 new border haats to increase the volume of trade between the two countries, said a senior official of the Indian foreign ministry.

The new border haats, whose establishment is currently under discussion, will be located in Mizoram and West Bengal. New border haats may improve access to markets and economic opportunities for border communities while reducing informal trade across the border, said Smita Pant, a senior diplomat in the Ministry of External Affairs reports the Live Mint.

According to Pant, the two countries have eight haats operational, which are located across a number of northeastern Indian states like Tripura and Meghalaya.

The two countries have stepped up infrastructure building to improve connectivity, with some initiatives funded with support from Japan.

The establishment of the Matabari Port in Bangladesh by 2027 is also expected to allow for the easier flow of goods from India to Bangladesh and onwards to Asian markets.

The three countries are working together on the "Bay of Bengal Northeast Industrial Value Chain Concept", which aims to attract manufacturing to India's Northeast and Bangladesh.

 

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@Nilgiri Do you think when Ganges water sharing treaty expire in 2026 BD and India will have a major problem at hand?
Because first time (let's be blunt) India tried to f**k us up and didn't signed any treaty for 25 years.


 
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@Nilgiri Do you think when Ganges water sharing treaty expire in 2026 BD and India will have a major problem at hand?
Because first time (let's be blunt) India tried to f**k us up and didn't signed any treaty for 25 years.



I haven't read enough on this particular one to comment fairly on it. BD friend of mine did bring up Teesta issue a few times with me and largely blamed TMC (Mamata) for that.... in that Indian central (UPA2) govt at the time was kind of held hostage by her (and she did same with Modi govt later). It seems TMC and West Bengal regionalism has weaponised the issue politically and wont budge as farmers etc are solid voting group they want to retain etc. Farakka with Ganges is same WB state again.

The topic more broadly gets very toxic, there is divide in my very own family w.r.t folks that moved up Cauvery river to BLR long time back and now even though they are Tamils they take the regional kannadiga position on the upper riparian matter with us which is extremely unreasonable to us. This is not pleasant stuff and it keeps coming up frequently as well, especially when there is leaner rain season in the area. Same kind of stuff the article talks about, agreements "agreed to" but there is suspicion its not being followed upstream etc. Why is A B and C purposely increasing this and that cultivation to change the water need dynamic and so on....why are these water rights being wasted, why is this and that ratio not following population or GDP ratio etc. The accusations can build up in the voids left by the water sharing agreements....immense trust deficits.

Even before cauvery dispute really took off after KA first started building new dam projects post independence (and post state reorganisation of the late 50s when BLR was split from madras state to join with mysore etc)..... there was cases of extreme anger over stuff like movies when there was scene of our Pallava king throwing Chalukya flag to the ground and trampling over it heh.

The place is a subcontinent truly....theres regional, state and international issues that transmute the same issues at hand in their various ways.
 

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India has agreed to fulfil Bangladesh's request for the import of seven vital food commodities, including rice and wheat, subject to Bangladesh guaranteeing the import of the designated quantities within the specified annual quota.

At the same time, India has set a condition to ensure the specified amount is imported within the stipulated time.

The development happened during a virtual meeting titled "Fixation of the annual quota for Bangladesh in import of various essential commodities from India" between representatives from the two neighbouring countries on Sunday (20 August).

Tapan Kanti Ghosh, senior secretary of the commerce ministry, led the Bangladesh side during the meeting.

An official of the commerce ministry who was present at the meeting told The Business Standard that India wants to set the conditions due to concerns that if Bangladesh does not import the designated quantities as specified in the quota, it might lead to losses for Indian farmers.

Furthermore, India is also keen on implementing a time limit for the import of these commodities.

Particularly concerning onion, garlic, and ginger, there has been a significant focus on determining a specific timeframe.

This emphasis on setting a time limit is due to the challenges and costs associated with storing these perishable goods.

On the other hand, the Bangladeshi delegation discussed the pricing and tariffs of these products. They put forth a proposal suggesting that the prices of these commodities be set competitively in line with global market rates, according to the commerce ministry official.

Additionally, in cases where India applies extra tariffs due to exceptional circumstances, no additional levies should be imposed on goods imported under the quota system. However, Indian authorities responded to Bangladesh's proposal by stating that adherence to legal regulations is paramount and leaves no room for exceeding those boundaries.

Last month, Bangladesh submitted a report through the foreign ministry to the Indian authorities requesting an annual import quota for 15 lakh tonnes of rice and 25 lakh tonnes of wheat from India in order to protect its food security and stabilise prices amid concerns about potential supply disruptions caused by natural disasters and global crises.

The requested quota also included 10 lakh tonnes of sugar, 6 lakh tonnes of onions, 50,000 tonnes of garlic, and one lakh tonnes of ginger.

Subsequently, after discussions between the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, adjustments were made to increase the quantities of some products. Later, the commerce ministry recalibrated the volume of goods and communicated these adjustments to the Indian authorities via the foreign ministry


The spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Monday described the recent media reports about “India's reservations about the US visa policy and a pro-activism over Bangladesh” as a “theoretical discussion ”.

“Let me clarify yours on the last one is certainly in the realm of…you know…theoretical discussion or hypothetical… if the meeting happens…...this is not the venue to discuss bilateral issues with Bangladesh,” Arindam Bagchi said during a special briefing.

He was moderating the briefing by Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to South Africa for BRICS.

The spokesperson was replying to a BBC News journalist about India's stance on the issue.

The journalist also asked about Bangladesh's joining the BRICS and the possibility of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's meeting with Modi in Johannesburg on the sidelines.

The foreign secretary replied that the bilateral meetings on the sidelines were “still evolving” since there would be a large number of leaders present there.

Once it is fixed, he said they would “definitely” share it with the media.

He, however, did not make any comment on the US’s role in Bangladesh elections.

Earlier, Kolkata-based “Anandabazar Patrika” first reported that India had conveyed to the US that “the way various steps are being taken by the US to destabilize the Sheikh Hasina government is not positive for the overall security of India as a neighboring country and South Asia as a whole.”

“India is not happy with the current role of America centering the upcoming elections in Bangladesh and this message has also been conveyed to Washington,” said the newspaper quoting unnamed sources.

Washington announced a visa policy in which the state department would restrict visas to those who stood in the way of holding the upcoming general elections free and fair.

https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/foreign-affairs/323160/‘theoretical-discussion’-–-india-on-media-reports
 

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The Indian government is mulling oil supply to Bangladesh, and other neighbouring countries Myanmar and Nepal from the petroleum, oil and lubricant (POL) storage unit in Assam's Cachar district, Indian Union State Minister Rameswar Teli said.

"It's possible to supply petroleum products from the greenfield POL unit at Moinarbond to Bangladesh, Myanmar and even Nepal. Railway tracks are being aligned to facilitate bulk movement of fuel," Teli said during his visit to the unit of the PSU major Indian Oil Corporation on Sunday, reports the Times of India.

He said, in 2022, the Rs 502-crore project was inaugurated by Indian President Droupadi Murmu virtually and he was also present on the occasion.

He discussed with the officials at the facility about the functioning of the oil and gas plants in Cachar forward base and its importance in the context of the overall development of Assam and the northeast. Teli, however, came to know about the slow pace of pipeline gas delivery projects in Silchar after reaching the city.

The Indian union minister said to speed up the work, he would hold an urgent meeting with the MD of East Indian Gas Agency Ltd, which will conduct the work of pipeline gas delivery project in Silchar.

 

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Bangladesh and India on Friday signed three memorandums of understanding (MoUs) after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's meeting with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi here.

The MoUs are-- Cooperation on Agricultural Research and Education between Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council and Extension of Cultural Exchange Programme from 2023 to 2025.

The other MoU is between Bangladesh Bank and the National Payments Corporation of India for network connectivity to facilitate transactions in rupee and taka between the two countries.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said this while briefing reporters.

 

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Highlights
  • The rupee trade with India was launched on 11 July
  • At that time, Sonali Bank and Eastern Bank assumed responsibility for opening LCs in rupees
  • Trust Bank, Social Islami Bank, AB Bank, NCC Bank, Prime Bank, and Premier Bank have also sought permission to conduct trade in rupees
  • The applications of these banks are currently under review
More Bangladeshi banks have shown interest in conducting trade in rupees ever since Bangladesh and India launched a rupee trade settlement mechanism in July this year.

The initiative was taken to alleviate the reliance on the US dollar, which has traditionally been the primary currency for Bangladesh's external trade.

The Bangladesh Bank (BB) has already granted permission to two more banks — Islami Bank and Standard Chartered Bank — to engage in trade with India using rupees, bringing the total to four banks participating in this arrangement.

On 11 July when the rupee trade with India was launched, Sonali Bank and Eastern Bank (EBL) assumed responsibility from the Bangladesh side for opening Letters of Credit (LC) in rupees, rather than in dollars, for the import and export of goods with India.

In addition, six more banks — Trust Bank, Social Islami Bank, AB Bank, NCC Bank, Prime Bank, and Premier Bank — have submitted applications to the central bank for authorisation to conduct trade in rupees, a senior central bank official told The Business Standard.

"The applications of these banks are currently under review," said Zakir Hossain Chowdhury, executive director of the Bangladesh Bank.

Mohammad Mamdudur Rashid, managing director and CEO of NCC Bank, said, "We applied to join the rupee trade a month ago. This form of bilateral trade, conducted outside of international currencies, is a novel endeavour for our banks. Nevertheless, we believe it presents opportunities for our institutions, which is why we are keen to be part of it."

Referring to the process of trade in rupees, bankers said, first the traders will export the goods and receive the price in rupees. It will be deposited in the Nostro account of the concerned bank in India. Later, the trader can pay the import cost from the earned rupees. By doing this, the loss that we had in case of conversion from dollar to rupee or taka, will not happen anymore.

This process of trade is likely to be expanded in the future, a policymaking officer of a private bank said, "Currently, 18 countries in the world trade in rupees. As our bilateral trade increases, we may also export to other countries and receive payments in rupees. These rupees will help meet the cost of imports from India."

So far, EBL has opened and settled Pran Toast worth INR1.1 million for Pran Group and Packing raw materials worth INR1.3 million for the same group.

Amit Kumar, country head of the State Bank of India in Bangladesh, told The Business Standard, "In July, we opened an LC for import of vehicles and export of crude soya oil with the Neetal-Niloy Group. A total of four LCs of INR 16.1 million in imports and INR 12.4 million in exports have been opened so far."

Apart from this, Standard Chartered Bank, Bangladesh has opened import and export LC for Walton Hi-Tech Industries PLC, a concern of the Walton Group.

Ahmed Shaheen, additional managing director of EBL, said, "Trade in rupees is a bit of a new experience for our banks. It has just begun. So initially, import and export will be in small amounts but the volume will gradually increase."

Pointing out that it is possible to meet the import cost of about $2 billion with rupees, he said, "Currently, we export goods worth about $2 billion to India annually. That is, out of the $14 billion cost of our imports, $2 billion dollars of payment can be made in rupee."

"If trade with India was in dollars, those who buy products from us in India would have to face trouble in fixing the prices of their products. But they do not have to do that conversion while trading in rupees. They will buy in rupee and sell in rupee, as a result, it will be easier to determine their prices," he said.

The experienced banker also said the pressure on the country's reserves will decrease if trade in the rupee picks up more steam.

 

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The 13th Indo-Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference (IPACC) convened from September 26 to 27, 2023, at the prestigious Manekshaw Centre in New Delhi. This significant biennial event, co-hosted by the Indian Army and the US Army Pacific, served as a unifying platform for army chiefs from 30 Indo-Pacific nations. The collective aim was to deliberate upon critical aspects of security cooperation, strategic collaboration, and pressing regional concerns.

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BGB member killed in BSF firing in Jessore​


  • Flag meeting held
  • Protest letter sent to BSF


A member of the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) was shot dead by India's Border Security Force (BSF) in the Benapole border area in Jessore.

The deceased was identified as Rais Uddin.

Jessore-49 BGB Battalion Commander Lt Colonel Hossain Ahmed Jamil confirmed the matter in a press release on Tuesday morning.

According to BGB, some smugglers were bringing cattle from India through the Dhanyakhola border area on Monday morning. Sensing the matter, the BGB members chased the smugglers but they entered the Indian border.

At that time, BGB member Rais Uddin got separated from the team due to dense fog. Later BGB, through various sources, found out that he was injured in a BSF firing and was undergoing treatment in a hospital inside India.

Immediately after the incident, a flag meeting was held at the battalion commander level and it was learned that the BGB member died while undergoing treatment at that Indian hospital.

Locals said they heard at least several rounds of gunfire in the early hours of Monday.


In this regard, Lt Colonel Hossain Ahmed Jamil said: "We have sent a strong diplomatic protest letter to the BSF demanding a fair investigation into the matter."

The process of handing over Rais Uddin’s body to his family is underway.



 

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