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Four more Border Haats to be set up along India-Bangladesh border

Tripura,Business/Economy,Diplomacy, Fri, 23 Mar 2012 IANS

Agartala, March 23 (IANS) Dhaka and New Delhi have agreed to set up four more 'Border Haats' (bazars) along the India-Bangladesh border in Tripura, a minister said here Friday.


A 'Border Haat' was set up in Meghalaya last year.


"The Bangladesh government has agreed to India's proposal to set up four more Border Haats along the Tripura border. The union commerce ministry has communicated this to the Tripura government," Tripura's Commerce Minister Jitendra Chaudhury told reporters.


The proposed Border Haats would be set up at Raghna and Kamalpur in northern Tripura, Kasba in western Tripura and Srinagar in southern Tripura. The northeastern state shares an 856-km international border with Bangladesh.


"The Tripura government had earlier demanded to set up seven Border Haats along the Tripura border. In the first phase, four such trading markets were agreed upon by the two countries," Chaudhury said.


"If the existing border infrastructure is upgraded, the volume of trade and business between Bangladesh and northeastern states of India would be increased five to six times of the current level."


The Border Haats are to be set up within five kilometres on each side of the international border.


"The Border Haats would be allowed to sell local agricultural and horticultural products, spices, minor forest products (excluding timber), fresh and dry fish, dairy and poultry products, cottage industry items, wooden furniture, handloom and handicraft items," a senior Tripura government official told IANS.


He said that trading in these bazars would be held once or twice a week, and a spending cap of $50 will be imposed per head.


No local tax will be imposed on the trading. Both Indian and Bangladeshi currencies will be accepted, the official said.


"Trade between Bangladesh and Tripura alone has increased from Rs.4 crore in 1996 to Rs.258 crore in the last financial year. During the current fiscal (2011-12) up to December (last year) the trade further increased to Rs.232 crore and is expected to cross Rs.300 crore by March-end," he added.


According to the official, the two countries had earlier decided to upgrade the existing 27 customs stations in Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram.


A delegation of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) recently visited Dhaka and met Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.


"Bangladesh prime minister (Sheikh Hasina) has responded positively to the ICC's suggestion to open a deputy high commission office either in Guwahati or Shillong," an ICC spokesperson said here.


"Hasina herself felt that opening of a consulate or deputy high commission office in the northeast would significantly contribute towards improving trade, business and tourism relations between the two countries, and would address several local issues, including visa-related problems," the ICC official added.


Bangladesh's trade and business with the northeastern states is much higher compared to the rest of India.


Four northeastern states - Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Assam - share a 1,880-km border with Bangladesh, some of it unfenced and running through dense forests, making it porous and vulnerable.


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